New Delhi, Feb 16: Commonwealth Games gold-medallist Gaurav Solanki (52kg) advanced to the men's pre-quarters, while former junior world champion Nikhat Zareen (51kg) made the women's quarterfinals of the 70th Strandja Memorial Boxing Tournament in Sofia, Bulgaria. Zareen defeated Italy's Giovanna Marchese in her opening clash, while Solanki got the better of American Abraham Perez. Solanki, also a gold-winner at India Open and the Chemistry Cup last year, will be up against Kazakhstan's Anvar Muzaparov in the last-16 stage.
Zareen, a multiple-time national medallist, will square off against Belarus' Yana Burym in the next round. Also advancing to the pre-quarters in the men's competition was last year's Ulaan Baatar Cup gold-medallist Ankush Dahiya (60kg). Dahiya claimed a split verdict over Azerbaijan's Sarkhan Aliyev and Macedonian Jasin Ljama awaits him in the round of 16. In the women's 60kg category, Neeraj defeated Bulgarian Aslahan Mehmedova.
However, the day was not without its share of disappointments either. Among the men, world championships bronze-medallist Gaurav Bidhuri (56kg) bowed out following a first-round loss to local favourite Emanuil Bogoev in a split decision. Another prominent name to make an early exit was former Commonwealth Games bronze-medallist Pinki Jangra in the women's competition. Jangra was beaten by Filipino Irish Magno in a split verdict.
Two other women boxers, whose campaign ended early were Nupur (75kg) and Neetu (75kg). While Nupur went down to Italian Jessica Galizia 3-2, neetu lost 0-5 to Russia's Elena Gapeshina. In the men's draw, Ashish Kumar (75kg) and Ashish (64kg) also lost their respective bouts in split decisions to exit on a mixed day for India at the prestigious European tournament. The country's best performance in the tournament came last year when it snared 11 medals, including two gold. Over 300 boxers from more than 40 countries are in action at the ongoing edition.