Glasgow Commonwealth Games silver medallist L Devendro Singh, who is recovering from an injury, began India’s gold rush in boxing when he pipped Mohib Ulla of Pakistan in 49kg category at the SAI campus in North Eastern Hill University on the outskirts of the city.
The other gold medallists of the day were Vikas Krishan (75kg), Shiva Thapa (56kg), Madan Lal (52kg), Dheeraj Rangi (60kg), Manoj Kumar (64kg) and Mandeep Jangra (69kg).
“It was a bit tough and my focus was to avoid any injury with the qualifiers coming up next month,” the London Olympics quarterfinalist Devendro said after he was was adjudged winner 2-1 via split decision.
The Manipuri completely dominated the first and second rounds to run away with the bout.
Mohib Ulla mainly relied on wild swings, while a cautious Devendro was handing out straight crosses and body punches to be adjudged winner.
If Devendro fought off injury to open India’s account, world no 6 in middleweight Vikas Krishan put up a brave front after fighting a flu to down Tanveer Ahmed in the 75kg to end the home side’s campaign with a magnificent seven gold medals.
Despite not being able to put up his best, Krishan prevailed over his Pakistani opponent with some feisty uppercuts and was adjudged 3-0 winner.
“I was running temperature after landing here failing to cope with the temperature as I’m on full antibiotic dosage so I was not able to give my best,” Krishan said while India head coach GS Sandhu felt he would have won through TKO had he been fully fit.
Guwahati lad Shiva Thapa impressed the boisterous crowd, which included his father Padam and brother Govind among others, to prevail upon Sri Lankan W Ruwan Thilina in the 56kg title bout.
Against the Lankan, who was headbutting, Thapa had a defensive strategy.
“The strategy worked and I did not allow him to settle down initially before unleashing a flurry of blows,” the world number 2 said.
In 52kg, 35-year-old former national champion Madan Lal prevailed over another Pakistani opponent Mohammad Syed Asif to be adjudged 3-0 winner in an unanimous decision.
Another from the Indian boxing hub of Haryana, 20-year-old Dheeraj Rangi, who had secured a silver medal at the World Military Games in Mungyeong, South Korea in October last year, defeated Pakistan’s Ahmed Ali in the 60kg gold medal bout.
“You always try to bring your best when the opponent is from Pakistan. He was very aggressive and the idea was to stay away initially before landing blows. It was my first senior tournament and will give me a huge morale boost,” the Army Sports Institute boxer said.
Experienced boxer Manoj Kumar, the 2010 Commonwealth Games gold medallist and 2012 London Olympics quarterfinalist, was also adjudged winner in an unanimous 3-0 verdict against Dinidu Saparamadu of Sri Lanka in the 64kg.
Commonwealth Games silver medallist Mandeep Jangra, a protege of Akhil Kumar, survived a scare against Afghanistan’s Rahemi Alla Dad, but still emerged an unanimous 3-0 winner.