Amit Panghal, Manish Kaushik enter World Boxing Championships semis; India assured of medals

Amit Panghal and Manish Kaushik assured India of World Championship medals after winning their respective quarterfinal bouts. They have also sealed their spots for the Olympic qualifiers scheduled to be held in China during February.

India's Amit Panghal lands a punch on his Filipino opponent Carlo Paalam in the quarterfinal bout of 51kg category at World Men's Boxing Championships in Ekaterinburg, Russia.   -  PTI

India was 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 impressive victories here on Wednesday.

While Asian Games and championship gold-medallist Panghal defeated Filipino Carlo Paalam 4-1, Commonwealth Games silver-medallist Kaushik 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 Army man 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 game plan 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 finished a quarterfinalist in the last edition of the world championship after losing a fiercely-contested bout to the then defending champion Hasanboy Dusmatov in the 49kg category.

Kaushik, a former national champion making his debut at the world event, was the next to take the ring and he produced a composed performance against a flamboyant rival, who paid for a very poor defence.

Kaushik was sharp with his counter-attacks and not for once seemed fazed by his opponent’s attempts at trying to draw him in with a low guard.

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.

 

Sanjeet, also making his debut at the event, did come up with a spirited show against Torres. The Ecuadorian put more power in his punches and displayed sharp reflexes in avoiding the Indian’s counter-hits to prevail in a thoroughly entertaining contest.

In the last Indian bout of the day, Bisht was up against fourth-seeded Englishman McGrail, a former gold-medallist at the European Championships.

The boxer from Uttarakhand fought with a deep gash above his right eye but didn’t look perturbed.

However, McGrail was just too good for him with a deadly left hand, which regularly struck scoring uppercuts.

It was Bisht’s second successive world championship appearance and he had finished a quarterfinalist even the last time around.

Amit Panghal and Manish Kaushik seal places in Olympic qualifiers with world medals

The Boxing Federation of India (BFI) had made it clear that boxers who win medals at the world championships will be automatic picks for the Olympic qualifiers scheduled to be held in China during February.

“Yes, Amit and Manish will be going to the qualifiers. There will not be any trials in their weight categories now,” Indian Boxing’s High Performance Director Santiago Nieva told PTI.

The rest of the squad will be picked on the basis of camp performance, points accumulated at international events and in some cases, trials.

The 23-year-old Panghal and the 25-year-old Kaushik will be gunning for their maiden Olympic spots next year.