Amit Panghal on Saturday got past the reigning Olympic Champion from Uzbekistan, Hasanboy Dusmatov, to become only the eighth Indian boxer to win a gold medal at the Asian Games 2018. The 22-year-old defeated the favourite Dusmatov via split decision 3-2 to win the yellow metal in Men’s 49kg Boxing.
The young Armyman, who was making his debut at the Games, showed his tactical prowess to outwit the Uzbek, who is known for his quick speed and jabs. The Haryana boxer had earlier suffered a loss against Dusamtov via split decision in last year’s World Championships. But he exacted his revenge in Jakarta to make up for the narrow defeat, as he laid down some clean right hooks and jabs on his opponent.
Speaking to reporters after the match, Panghal said that he was seeking for his revenge against the Uzbek boxer. “I had lost to him before, so I had to take revenge. Coach Santiago (Nieva) and other coaches had prepared me well. In the semifinal, I did not play the first round well, here I did not repeat that mistake,” he said.
He further added that he trained how to take advantage of the upper cut against southpaws. “The coach asked me get him on counter-attack. The training in England and at the camp in India helped. I had sparred with southpaw boxers at both places. I knew how to take advantage of the upper cut,” he said.
The Uzbek southpaw tried to counter against Amit, who kept on moving around, covering the entire ring, especially in the final round. Panghal refused to fall into the trap of diving in and just kept moving away from his opponent, knowing he had this one in his kitty. As a result, Dusmatov lunged forward to catch up to him which worked in Panghal’s favour as he launched a counter-attack.
Talking about Panghal’s win, the men’s chief coach Santiago Nievea said that a good first round allowed Amit the opportunity to hang in the back for the remainder of the two games. “We knew he is an explosive boxer, so we asked Amit to stay away from him. Amit had not played a great first round in his semifinal but today he was good, so he did not have to catch up and he connected his punches,” he said. “He (Dusmatov) got tired towards the end and his punches did not have the strength. Amit was fast today. He had the first round, we knew he had the strength to pull it off. It can’t get bigger than this for him,” he added.
Panghal’s gold medal win takes India’s total medal tally at the Asian Games 2018 to 66 medals with 13 gold. Pranab Bardhan and Shibhnath Sarkar added another gold, winning the Bridge Men’s Pair event final, taking India’s tally to 67 medals with 14 gold.