Defending champions Mumbai Maharathi slipped again, succumbing to a close 4-3 verdict against Punjab Royals in a league match of the 2nd Pro Wrestling League (Season 2) on Thursday evening.
Despite putting up a strong determined challenge, the Mumbai outfit, were unfortunate to concede a second successive defeat. Earlier, Mumbai went down fighting to Haryana Hammers 4-3 on the opening day.
For the Mumbai team captain Erica Wiebe of Canada once again showed her class. Fighting the second bout against Vasilisa Marzaliuk in the women’s 75kg category, Erica recovered splendidly from a 0-2 at the end of Round One. The Rio Games gold medal winner also seemed unfazed by a cut above her eye at the five-minute mark as she went on to pull down her opponent in the final seconds of the match to pick up two valuable points and clinch the bout to level scores.
Earlier, Punjab got off to a great start with captain Vladimir Khinchegashvili leading by example in the opening the fight against Rahul Aware in the 57kg category for men. The Rio Games gold medallist, who had a 4-0 lead at the end of Round One, further stretched his lead to 7-1 before Aware managed to get two points right at the end as Khinchegashvili seemed to have relaxed a bit after having gained a sizeable lead.
Mumbai showed signs of snatching a win as Sarita scored a narrow 2-1 win against Manju, who had won gold at the 2016 Commonwealth Championships, in the 58kg category and then Pavlo Oliynyk won 2-0 against Krishan Kumar in the 97kg for the other Mumbai wins.
Mumbai were unable to sustain the momentum and lost the next three bouts to hand Punjab their first win.
Columbia Carolina Castillo proved no match for Punjab’s experienced pro Nirmal Devi losing tamely 0-3 in the 48kg fight. In the next bout, which was an exciting affair, Pankaj Rana of Punjab snatched a tight 9-8 win against Pritam in the men’s 70kg category. The lead repeatedly changed ends before Rana stole a march on his rival and level the match scores at 3-3.
Multiple Olympic medallist Toghrul Asgarov then defeated Vikas Kumar 7-3 in the 65kg bout to wrap out the match for the Punjabis. Asgarov, the 2012 Olympic champion and silver medallist at Rio, led 5-0 at the end of the first round, taking down Vikas and pushing him out with ease. Vikas managed to get behind Asgarov right at the end for two points to cut the deficit but it was a little too late.
The was the first win for Punjab Royals.