World Championships bronze medal winner Shiva Thapa came out trumps in a tough contest, while Asian silver-medallist L Devendro Singh produced a dominating show as favourites made the quarterfinals with contrasting wins at the Senior Men’s National Boxing Championships here.
Also advancing to the quarters was former Commonwealth Games gold medallist Manoj Kumar (69kg) and former Asian Games silver-medallist Dinesh Kumar (91kg) today.
Local favourite Shiva, competing in his maiden tournament in the lightweight (60kg) category, was up against Services Sports Control Board’s Manish in perhaps the most exciting and anticipated bout of the day.
The otherwise sparsely attended tournament had a fair share of spectators today owing to the 23-year-old Shiva, who fought through the tough challenge posed by Manish.
In fact, the proceedings on the other ring came to a halt as even the selection committee and ring officials shifted to the one where Shiva was fighting to catch the action.
The two boxers did not disappoint and produced a thoroughly engaging contest in which fortunes ebbed and flowed. While the opening round quite clearly went to the former Asian champion, Manish made a comeback in the second round.
However, Shiva, a two-time Olympian already, raised his game when it mattered in the final three minutes to clinch the issue 4-1.
At the end of the gruelling contest, both the boxers embraced each other warmly perhaps in acknowledgment of the effort they put in.
“It was a great fight from Manish. He is technically very sound but I had planned and strategised well to take him on, which worked in my favour here,” Shiva said after the bout.
“I am definitely focussing on the gold, let’s see who my next opponent is in the quarters,” he added.
In contrast, Devendro (52kg) completely dominated his bout against Uttarakhand’s Arvind. Such was the ferocity of his trademark tempo boxing that Arvind twice faced a standing eight count before the judges ruled 5-0 in Devendro’s favour.
However, Manoj was given a stiff fight by Meghalaya’s Tilok Budha but still managed to score 5-0 victory.
Dinesh, on the other hand, hardly spent any time in the ring before the referee stopped the contest in his favour. The All India Police boxer, participating in his maiden competition in two and a half years, was simply too powerful for his rival from Bengal, Tanish.
“I had suffered an accident in 2013 in which my right arm was severely damaged. The doctors had told me to forget boxing for at least two years. But since I am feeling better now, I am back to compete,” he said after the bout.