Updated: June 1, 2021 1:48:17 pm
Amit Panghal lost the Asian Championships final despite three out of five judges scoring the last two rounds for him. That such scorelines aren’t an anomaly but the norm is what makes the 10-point must system so bewildering.
The 3-2 split decision loss means Panghal has now lost all three bouts against Uzbek rival Shakobidin Zoirov. His dismissive, “of course” head shake, however, told the story. Even the previous defeat, in Russia last month, wasn’t as one-sided as the 5-0 scoreline suggested.
“This time Amit deserved the decision,” an exasperated High-Performance director Santiago Nieva told The Indian Express. “The second round was pretty clear (for Amit). The third round was closer but still in our favour. Even the first was close.”
Panghal’s Twitter account had already dedicated the silver to the Indian youth and his childhood coach Anil Dhankar, before the Indian team, expectedly, lodged a protest against the decision.
ये सिल्वर मैडल,मेरे देश के युवाओं ,मेरे कोच Anil Dhankhar के नाम,काश इस वक्त वो यहाँ दुबई में होते,@KirenRijiju सर बस यही इच्छा है की टोक्यो मैडल के वक्त वे मेरे साथ खड़े हो।🙏🙏🙏 @Media_SAI @BFI_official @AjaySingh_SG @ipspankajnain @DGSAI @debojo_m @aapkadharam @AapkaPanghal pic.twitter.com/SL8ujv7d13
— Amit Panghal (@Boxerpanghal) May 31, 2021
According to the rules, the team manager or the head coach of the losing boxer gets 15 minutes after the decision is announced to submit their protest, and complete the paperwork for it in the next 30 minutes. Only decisions with 3-2 scoreline can be reviewed.
The Indian contingent had already seen the system work when Sakshi Chaudhary’s win had already been overturned in favour of Kazakh world champion Dina Zholaman. On Monday, the team’s protest was not accepted by the jury.
@Boxerpanghal you fought like a tiger. This bout was for sure yours. And, for us you are the Champ. An official protest has been lodged for the second round.🤞 @AjaySingh_SG @BFI_official @KirenRijiju @DGSAI https://t.co/6C4KUsWh8n pic.twitter.com/hxwJGldNla
— Debojo Maharshi (@debojo_m) May 31, 2021
Using stature to advantage
He failed to defend the continental title, but Panghal’s performance against the reigning Olympic and World champion should be a massive boost to his confidence this close to the Tokyo Games.
The ‘take it slow’ strategy is firmly on the backburner. Like their previous meeting in April, Panghal came out trading with Zoirov. The Uzbek’s combinations, however, were crisper and longer, catching Panghal at the end of most exchanges. Panghal struggled to find the range for most of the three minutes but it was still the closest opening round between the two; the first time a judge scored it for the Indian.
It was the second round where Panghal, short for the flyweight division, turned his stature to his advantage. He still lunged in to scrap, but swayed and ducked, leaving Zoirov punching the air.
By changing the level, getting inside and crouching under Zoirov’s punches, Panghal’s overhand left — that looping weapon that has come to define his in-ring style — changed too. If it didn’t find the face, it got Zoirov’s torso on the way down. There was a lot more bodywork by both boxers, but Panghal’s gameplan seemed to work better.
The right hook was another revelation. Panghal feinted down and went to the head with his lead hook.
“Left to the body, right to the head,” was Nieva’s instruction after the first round.
Panghal hit back in the second round and rode on the momentum in the third. The overhand left was now followed by straight rights to the face, staggering Zoirov. And when the Uzbek moved in, cheeky check hooks put an end to that.
In the end, the contest was decided by the slimmest of margins. When asked what could have worked in Zoirov’s favour according to the judges, Nieva said: “He has fast punches, good pressure. He is active. But clearly, the cleaner punches were landed by Amit.”
Their rivalry may read 3-0 in the Uzbek’s favour, but on Monday, Panghal was the better boxer. There’s no protesting that.
India has lodged PROTEST
India has contested the R2️⃣ decision of the spilt verdict 2️⃣-3️⃣ and surprise loss of @Boxerpanghal in the finals of ASBC #AsianEliteBoxingChampionships in Dubai against reigning World & @Olympics champion S Zoirov of 🇺🇿 🥊#PunchMeinHaiDum#boxing pic.twitter.com/Xt09rwbxVP
— Boxing Federation (@BFI_official) May 31, 2021
Sanjeet snaps gold
Shiva Thapa suffered a 3-2 defeat in the 64kg final to Asian Games silver medallist Mongolia’s Baatarsukh Chinzorig. The two-time Olympian previously won gold in 2013, silver in 2017 and two bronze in 2015 and 2019. In the 91kg final, Sanjeet stunned the three-time Asian champion Vassiliy Levit 4-1, taking India’s tally to two gold, five silver and eight bronze; an improvement on the tally of 13 medals achieved in 2019.
𝗦𝗨𝗣𝗘𝗥 𝗦𝗔𝗡𝗝𝗘𝗘𝗧 🤩#Sanjeet wins 🥇medal for 🇮🇳 in style. He defeated five-time Asian Championship medalist and Rio Olympic silver medallist in the Final of 2021 ASBC Asian Elite Boxing Championships in Dubai 🥊#PunchMeinHaiDum#AsianEliteBoxingChampionships pic.twitter.com/VtUEhME20k
— Boxing Federation (@BFI_official) May 31, 2021
Nieva believes the performance shows Indians are back on the track.
“It has been tough for everybody, not only the boxers who suffered Covid. Even among the girls, you could see that some of them were in top shape. Not only because of Covid weakening them but also lack of sparring, being in quarantine and no proper training,” Nieva said on Sunday. “This was difficult to deal with, and that’s why it was so important to come here and get some proper matches. They are back on track and now we focus on the Olympics.”
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.