The big surprise in boxing at the 2018 Asian Games came nearly two months before the actual event, when 2014 gold medallist, 2012 Olympic bronze medallist and five-time world champion M. C. Mary Kom said she would not be participating in Jakarta-Palembang. Her reasoning was sound: the mighty Manipuri was unwilling to move back to the 51kg category after switching to 48kg, in which she won gold at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, earlier this year.
Nonetheless, the Indian contingent is expected to return with a rich haul, especially considering that the country won nine medals in April’s Commonwealth Games and despite the fact that three heavier weight categories have been dropped for Jakarta-Palembang, leaving seven for the men and three for the women.
The field is expected to be a tough one, with Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan boxers participating in all weight classes, and India’s chances shrinking in the absence of the heavier classes, in which the country won two medals at Gold Coast. Still, India has a raft of talent that includes Amit Panghal (bronze at the 2017 Asian Championships and silver at the 2018 Commonwealth Games) in the 49kg, Gaurav Solanki (gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games) in the 52kg, Mohammed Hussamuddin (bronze at the 2018 Commonwealth Games) in the 56kg, back-in-form Olympian Shiva Thapa and Vikas Krishan Yadav (gold at the 2010 Asian Games and the 2018 Commonwealth Games) in the 60kg.
The women’s contingent, too, has medal contenders in Sarjubala Devi (silver at the 2014 Women’s World Boxing Championships) in the 51kg, Sonia Lather (silver at the 2016 Women’s World Boxing Championships) in the 57kg class and Pavitra in the 60kg.
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