The celebrated MC Mary Kom led the charge by assuring herself of a sixth medal at the Asian women's Boxing Championships as three Indians entered the semifinals of the continental showpiece on Saturday. Advancing to the medal round, along with Mary Kom, were Shiksha (54kg) and Priyanka Chaudhary (60kg).
Mary Kom, a five-time world champion and an Olympic bronze-medallist, defeated Chinese Taipei's Meng-Chieh Pin in a split verdict in the quarterfinals to make the last four stage of the light flyweight (48kg) category.
The 34-year-old, who has won four gold and a silver medal in her five previous appearances at the event, will face Japan's Tsubasa Komura in the semifinals.
The medal assured today is Mary Kom's first in more than a year and a massive confidence-booster for the boxer, who had missed Olympic qualification last year.
In a rather cautiously-fought bout, neither the Indian nor her opponent were willing to launch too many attacks. The punches were few and far between at least in the opening three minutes. However, the two boxers upped the intensity in the second round.
Pin, also the taller of the two pugilists, was the first to move away from the waiting game and began using her left straights and right hooks rather effectively.
However, Mary Kom too raised her game against the nimble-footed Pin, who displayed impressive defensive tactics.
The Manipuri went all out in the last round and more than made up for a patchy display in the opening round to get the judges' nod.
Shiksha, who belongs to the Railways Sports Promotion Board, was up next for the country, against Uzbekistan's Ferangiz Khoshimova. The national champion took an attacking approach from the first ring of the bell and hardly gave her rival any breathing space.
The unrelenting aggression eventually fetched Shiksha a unanimous verdict in her favour from the judges.
Shiksha will face Chinese Taipei's Lin Yu-Ting in the semifinals.
Priyanka too was a dominant force in her clash against Sri Lanka's Dulanjani Lankapurayalage and had no trouble earning a 5-0 victory.
However, world championships silver-medallist Saweety Boora (75kg), up against Olympic bronze-medallist Li Qian, bowed out after losing 0-5.