Five-time world champion M.C.Mary Kom stormed into the final of the 48 kilogram light flyweight category after thrashing North Korean Kim Hyang Mi 5:0 by unanimous verdict in the AIBA Women's World Championships at the packed K.D.Jadhav Indoor Stadium here on Thursday.
But 21-year-old Lovlina Borgohain had to settle for the bronze as she exited the championships, losing her 69 kg semi-final bout to the experienced Chen Nien-Chin of Taiwan in a split verdict (0:4). Though the Indian managed to win a point, it was docked because of the warning of the referee.
But it was the seasoned Manipuri pugilist Mary Kom's semi-final bout that attracted a full packed audience, chanting 'Mary, Mary' and reverberating the paced K.D.Jhadav hall.
The 35-year-old is gunning for a record sixth World title after having previously clinched the gold medal on five occasions -- 2002, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010 -- besides bagging a silver on her debut in 2001.
The unanimous verdict in the light flyweight semi-final over her Kim yet again proved the Indian's superiority in the 48 kg category.
Mary, who is still tied with Katie Taylor of Ireland on five gold medals, has an opportunity to become the most successful woman boxer if she beats Ukraine's Hanna Okhota in the final on Saturday.
Thursday's semi-final bout got off with a rousing welcome for the seasoned Indian boxer, as Mary started with swift movements and successfully negated the height advantage of her rival.
While the North Korean came back aggressively in the second round, Mary was quick enough to reserve her punches before coming up with a right arm jab to tame her opponent.
In the third and final round, Kim tried using her height and long reach but Mary used all her experience to thwart any challenge. The last 20 seconds saw the Indian piling on her rival with another set of barrage for the 5:0 decisions.
"I had prepared well for the semifinals as I do even during my training sessions. Studying your opponent is important and with my experience, I have done it for so many years," Mary said after the bout.
"In today's bout I followed my strategy and increased the tempo towards the close of every round," she added.
For the final against Hanna, Mary said she would prepare yet again.
"I will try my best in the final. I fought with this girl in Poland and I have beaten her. I will try my best inside the ring," Mary said after her semi-final bout.
"But I would need the prayer of all my fans; they have been fantastic and supporting me all along. I would need their prayer on Saturday, too," added the Manipuri.
Meanwhile, another Northeast boxer Lovlina, lacking in experience, managed to open up with a left jab and land a few combination blows in the first but Taiwan's Chen Nien-Chin showed better aggression despite the Indian maintaining a distance.
Definitely, the former world junior and Youth Olympics (Nanjing) champion had the better exchanges of blows than the 21-year-old Assam girl.
"I tried my best and I thought I had my combination punches going. But then, my opponent (Chen) came back strongly in the last two rounds," admitted the first-timer at the Worlds.
On Friday, two other Indians -- Sonia Chahal and Simranjit Kaur -- take to the rings for their semifinal bouts in 57 kg and 64 kg.
Sonia meets Jo Son Hwa of North Korea while Smiranjit will box with Duo Dan of China.