Delhi Gladiators played out a draw with OPM Punjab Sultans 9-9 to book their spot in the semi-finals of the Super Boxing League (SBL) at the Siri Fort Squash and Badminton Stadium here last evening.
The draw meant that the Delhi Gladiators as well as the Haryana Warriors qualify for the semi-finals of SBL.
Delhi Gladiators went into the match high on confidence as they had won their first two matches of Super Boxing League whereas the OPM Punjab Sultans needed a huge victory to qualify for the semi-finals as it was a do-or-die match for both teams, with the winner qualifying for the semi-finals.
It was the Delhi Gladiators who kept their unbeaten run intact as Shivani Dahiya, captain Pawan Maan, and Gaganpreet Sharma; all won their respective bouts to make a comeback into the match. It was Amandeep Singh, Balkar Singh and Sumit Rangi who won the three bouts for the OPM Punjab Sultans.
The first bout of the night saw Delhi Gladiators' Rakesh Lohchab take on OPM Punjab Sultans' Amandeep Singh in the Feather Weight category. The Sultans' man Singh started the bout on the front foot as he threw some good combinations on his opponent in Round 1 and 2 while Gladiators' Lohchab focused on keeping his guard up.
Singh kept his upper hand in the latter stages of the bout as well, countering Lohchab well in Round 3 with jabs and uppercuts. The last and final Round saw Lohchab push the pace as he wanted to turnaround the match, but Amandeep Singh smacked the better punches on his opponent to run away with the victory by Split Decision as OPM Punjab Sultans took a 3-0 lead.
In the second bout of the night, it was up to Delhi Gladiators' Munish Sharma to cut down the lead for his team as he faced Balkar Singh from the OPM Punjab Sultans in the Welter Weight category. Both the boxers started Round 1 cautiously as they waited patiently to work out each other's strategy. However, Round 2 saw Singh get the better of his opponent as he hit Sharma with some beautiful combinations. The latter looked to have slowed down as he lost some composure. Singh on the other hand, took advantage of the slowness of his opponent and smashed some strong right punches on Gladiators' Sharma in Round 3. The Sultans' man kept his shape in the fourth Round, as he struck some aggressive combinations on Sharma to seal the victory by Unanimous Decision to extend his team's lead to 6 points.
The situation was looking bleak for the Delhi Gladiators as the next bout was between Shivani Dahiya from the Delhi Gladiators and OPM Punjab Sultans' Saroj Bugalia in the Super Fly category. It was important for Shivani Dahiya to bring back the Gladiators into the match through a win in her bout. Dahiya started the fight brightly as she impressed with some barging blows on Bugalia to get the Round 1 underway. Gladiators' Shivani Dahiya utilised her experience in Round 2 as she dodged Saroj Bugalia's punches to hit her on the counter. 22-year-old Dahiya came into her own in Round 3 & 4 to hit Bugalia with strong jabs and combinations.
The fight was very well matched between the two fighters, but it was Shivani Dahiya who got the better hits, which resulted in her being awarded the victory by Unanimous Decision to bring back Delhi Gladiators into the tie as scores read 6-3 in favour of OPM Punjab Sultans.
The fourth fight of the night saw OPM Punjab Sultans' Sagar Narwat face Delhi Gladiators' captain Pawan Maan in the Middle Weight category. The Gladiators' skipper proved why he is so dangerous in such matches as he started Round 1 with a flurry of punches on Narwat to put him on the defence. Round 2 saw a similar story as Sultans' Narwat seemed to have slowed down as a result of getting hit and Gladiators' Maan made the most of it to hit him with some clean and strong combinations. It was an exciting bout as Narwat also got into his own in Round 3 to give Maan some competition; therefore Round 4 became important for both the boxers. Narwat got the better hits in the last Round but it proved to be too little, too late for the Sultans' boxer as Pawan Maan was awarded with the victory by Unanimous Decision which meant that the Gladiators equalised 6-6.
The next bout was between Gaganpreet Sharma of the Delhi Gladiators and Vicky Singh of the OPM Punjab Sultans in the Super Middle Weight category. The former started the first Round with some strong punches on Singh and continued the rhythm in Round 2 as he knocked some amazing punches. Sharma looked to have found the mojo on the night as he took advantage of Singh's weakness to make the bout one sided. Round 4 was also won by Delhi Gladiators' Gaganpreet Sharma as he did not allow Singh to make a comeback. It meant that the Gladiators' Sharma was awarded the victory by Unanimous Decision to put his team into a 9-6 lead.
The last bout of the night was a crucial one as a win for the Delhi Gladiators would win the match for them, and a win for the OPM Punjab Sultans would make them equalise or even take a lead. It was Delhi Gladiators' Deepak Malik who faced OPM Punjab Sultans ' Sumit Rangi in the Heavy Weight category. The two boxers started the first Round slowly as they looked to maintain their shape. It was an important fight for Rangi as he had to win the bout as a consolation victory for his team. Round 2 saw Rangi take the most points as his accurate punching saw him take the lead. In the last two Rounds between the two boxers, it all came down to who could Hit Harder to secure a win for their team. Sultans' Rangi kept the momentum going for his team as he won the bout by Unanimous Decision to equalise the scores 9-9 on the night.