New Delhi: Five-time world champion M C Mary Kom will lead India`s challenge in the Asian Cup Women`s Boxing Championship starting Thursday in Haikou, China, the year`s first major test for the country`s senior pugilists.
A team of six women boxers, who are leaving for the tournament tonight, will look to replicate the success of the youth and junior teams that won quite a few medals in the AIBA Women`s Junior/Youth World Championship in Turkey.
The event, which will provide Asian boxers an opportunity to sharpen their skills ahead of the 2012 London Olympics, will see a total of 40 boxers from 12 countries including India, Kazakhstan, Thailand, Sri Lanka, South Korea, Japan and China.
Bouts will be contested in ten weight categories ranging from 48kg to +81kg.
In accordance with the latest AIBA women`s ranking, the results of 2010 Astana Asian Women Championships and 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games, the top four boxers in each category have been selected to participate in this event.
Playing in the 48kg weight category, Mary Kom is the top ranked boxer in her weight class.
The 28-year-old has trained hard in the last few months and is rearing to begin the year on a high.
"We have had a long break after the Asian Games, but we have been working hard at the camps and are well prepared. I am looking at this tournament as a learning experience especially after the introduction of the new scoring system," Mary Kom said.
Kavita Chahal, a bronze medal winner at the 2010 World Championships, was nominated in the heavy weight category due to her number two Asian ranking.
Laxmi Padiya in light heavy, Kavita Goyat in middle, Neetu in light and Pavitra in feather weight also made the team owing to their rankings in the Asian Boxing Confederation.
After the 2010 Asian Games, this would be the first international tournament that Indian women boxers would participate in.
The Indian Boxing Federation aims at providing women pugilists adequate international exposure and wants to assess the level of competition in the Asian continent via this event.
This competition also marks the beginning of the first phase of IABF`s preparation and groundwork for the Asian Championships later this year, the World Championships and the London Olympics next year.