World Championships bronze-medallist Shiva Thapa fought through a bloodied forehead to assure himself of his maiden lightweight (60kg) medal but his campaign was thrown into jeopardy due to the injury on an otherwise predictable yet controversial quarterfinals day in the National Men’s Boxing Championships.
Shiva, a former Asian champion and a two-time Olympian, was cruising along in his quarterfinal contest against All India Police’s Ashok who head-butted the local favourite to slow him down in the final few seconds of the second round.
The head butt resulted in a bleeding forehead for the 23-year-old Shiva, who still managed to win the bout 5-0 but had to be rushed to a doctor.
Shiva, however, insisted that he will compete on Monday.
To his credit, the crowd favourite completed the three rounds despite the bleeding even though he spent the better part of the final three minutes trying to avoid aggravating the injury.
It was not an easy ride for other accomplished names either as former Commonwealth Games gold-medallist Manoj Kumar (69kg) and Asian Championships silver-medallist L Devendro Singh (52kg) staved off stiff challenge in their respective quarterfinal bouts to be assured of medals.
Manoj endured a tough one against Jammu and Kashmir’s Ashish, a boxer who tried hard to get the upper-hand with his height and reach advantage.
However, the two-time Asian bronze-medallist Manoj drew from his huge reservoir of experience to not only slow down the pace of the bout but also quite literally tire out his aggressive opponent.
To Manoj’s credit, his punches were clean against the seemingly more powerful rival and after the evenly-fought first two rounds, the Haryana-lad, competing for the Railways Sports Promotion Board (RSPB), managed to dominate the third round for a split 4-1 verdict in his favour.
Devendro’s bout against Haryana’s Niraj was also fought on an even keel and the Manipuri had to dig hard. Devendro was matched punch for punch by Niraj but the Asian Championships silver-medallist did just enough to eke out a 3-2 win.
At the end of the bout, the affable 23-year-old embraced Niraj for the tough fight he had given him.
However, Dinesh Kumar (91kg), competing in his first tournament after a two and a half year injury-forced break, outclassed Himachal Pradesh’s Abhishek in under three rounds to march into the semifinals.
In the only upset of the day, two-time former national champion Jasveer Singh (91kg) lost to Madhya Pradesh’s Gaurav after enduring a cut on his forehead.
There was some controversy as well when Andhra Pradesh and Haryana protested against what they called “unfair decisions” against their boxers — Durga Rao (60kg) and Ashish (64kg).
While Durga Rao lost to Vikas Malik, Ashish went down to Rohit Tokas. Both the wining boxers belonged to RSPB.
But the tournament’s Technical Supervisor Kishen Narsi said, “There was a tie in the final scores and we had to seek the individual preferences of the judges who ruled in favour of the respective winners.”