India were assured of an unprecedented two medals at the World Men’s Boxing Championships after Amit Panghal (52kg) and Manish Kaushik (63kg) entered the semifinals of the marquee event with contrasting but impressive victories here on Wednesday.
While Asian Games and championship gold-medallist Amit Panghal (52kg) defeated Filipino Carlo Paalam 4-1, Commonwealth Games silver-medallist Manish Kaushik (63kg) got the better of Brazil’s Wanderson de Oliveira 5-0. Both the boxers sealed their maiden world medals.
Before this year, India had never won more than one bronze medal in a single edition of the world championship.
The overall medal count for the country stood at four bronze medals claimed by Vijender Singh (2009), Vikas Krishan (2011), Shiva Thapa (2015) and Gaurav Bidhuri (2017).
However, Sanjeet (91kg), a former India Open gold-medallist, and fifth seed and Asian silver-winner Kavinder Singh Bisht (57kg) bowed out after losing their respective quarterfinals.
While Sanjeet went down 1-4 to Ecuador’s seventh-seeded Julio Castillo Torres, a Pan-American Games silver-medallist, Bisht was beaten by the reigning Commonwealth Games champion Peter McGrail of England 0-5.
The second-seeded Panghal, who had earlier defeated Paalam in the Asian Games semifinals last year, wasn’t off to the best of starts and was trailing Paalam at the end of the opening round.
But the Armyman from Rohtak didn’t take long to get his act together and become the more aggressive one in the next two 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 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.
Kaushik, a former national champion, was the next to take the ring and produced a composed performance against a flamboyant rival, who also paid for a very poor defence.
Next up for Kaushik is 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.
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).