Odisha Warriors scented a welcome victory, opening up a 2-0 lead over Bengaluru Brawlers in the Big Bout Indian Boxing League, approved by the Boxing Federation of India (BFI), in the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium complex here on Saturday. Skipper Jakhongir Rakhmanov and Naman Tanwar posted wins to place Odisha Warriors in the front.

With Youth Women’s 57kg ace Jasmine expected to pick up another win will be hoping that the changes they made in their line-up tonight – Deepak (52kg) returning after missing the clash with Gujarat Giants and Big Bout debutant Pramod Kumar (75kg) – would secure a crucial victory to help the team gain their first win in the League.

Jakhongir Rakhmanov overturned a sluggish start against Dinesh Dagar to gain a split verdict in the 69kg bout and give Odisha Warriors a winning start while Naman Tanwar beat back a spirited challenge by Reyal Puri in the 91kg bout as Odisha Warriors showed how eager they were to leave behind memories of losses to Punjab Panthers and Gujarat Giants.

Clearly under pressure after the first two bouts in the seven-bout match, Bengaluru Brawlers will believe that Simranjit Kaur (women’s 60kg) and Gaurav Bidhuri (57kg) will find winning sequences and set the stage for Ashish Insah and Nitin Kumar to complete the march to the team’s maiden victory in the league stage.

Odisha Warriors’ captain Jakhangir Rakhmanov won the toss and blocked the Youth Women’s 51kg bout. The Bengaluru Brawlers would not have minded that block since their ace Pinki Rani Jangra is away on National duty in the South Asian Games in Kathmandu. Her replacement in the team sheet, Anamika is a gritty competitor but could have found Savita a handful.

Saturday’s second clash between NE Rhinos and Gujarat Giants promises to draw the fans to the edge of their seats. Nikhat Zareen sparked the NE Rhinos’ turnaround against Bangalore Brawlers 3 and will hope that her team sustains the momentum while the Amit Pangal-led Gujarat Giants are no pushovers indeed, bubbling with confidence after a 5-2 win over Odisha Warriors.

The Big Bout Indian Boxing League is a unique three-week team competition for top Indian and international boxers in which six 14-member squads are competing for Rs. 3 crore prize money. The teams will play one another in seven-match contests before the top four teams compete in the semifinals.