With Indian boxers putting their best foot forward, they have rest assured of two medals at the men’s World Championships.
Asian Games gold medallist Amit Panghal and Manish Kaushik entered the semifinals with contrasting but impressive victories in Ekaterinburg (Russia) on Wednesday (September 18).
While Amit Panghal reached the semis, competing in the 52kg category defeating Filipino Carlo Paalam 4-1, Commonwealth Games silver-medallist Manish Kaushik performed in the 63kg and got the better of Brazil’s Wanderson de Oliveira 5-0.
Both the boxers sealed their maiden world medals.
The second-seeded Armyman who earlier beat Paalam at the Asian Games semifinals in 2018, also took the match off the hand of the opposition, not at the start but in more aggressive concluding rounds.
“I started slow but I think I dominated the second and third round. I was told by my coaches to be aggressive and I tried to be that. I had fought against him earlier so that gave me a fair idea of his gameplan as well,” Panghal said after the bout.
In the last-four stage, the Haryana-pugilist will be up against Kazakhstan’s Saken Bibossinov, who stunned Armenia’s European gold-medallist and sixth seed Artur Hovhannisyan in his quarterfinal showdown.
“He is a southpaw and has a long reach, I will work out a strategy for him,” the 23-year-old Panghal said.
The Indian boxer was a quarterfinalist in the last edition of the world championship, losing a fiercely-contested bout to the then-defending champion Hasanboy Dusmatov in the 49kg category.
Former national champion Kaushik was next to take the ring and put up a more composed performance against the rival whose defense turned out to be poor in front of the Indian’s skill show.
Kaushik will now face the Cuban top seed Andy Gomez Cruz, who out-punched Russia’s eighth-seeded Ilia Popov.
Cruz was the light welterweight (64kg) category gold-medallist in the 2017 edition and is also a two-time Pan American Games gold-winner.
However, Sanjeet (91kg), a former India Open gold-medallist, lost 1-4 to Ecuador’s seventh-seeded Julio Castillo Torres in his semifinal bout. Torres is a Pan-American Games silver-medallist.
Sanjeet, also making his debut at the event, did come up a spirited show against Torres but the Ecuadorian put more power in his punches and displayed sharp reflexes in avoiding the Indians counter-hits to prevail in a thoroughly entertaining contest.
India have never won more than one bronze medal in a single edition of the world championship. The overall medal count for the country stands at four bronze medals claimed by Vijender Singh (2009), Vikas Krishan (2011), Shiva Thapa (2015) and Gaurav Bidhuri (2017).
(With inputs from agencies)