Indian Boxing League: Chirag, Forrest help Gujarat Giants enter final

Chirag won his 57kg bout against Kavinder Singh Bisht, while Scott Forrest defeated Emmanuel Reyas in the 91kg bout to guide Gujarat Giants to the final.

Gujarat Giants' Chirag, the player of the tie, celebrates his win over Kavinder Singh Bisht of Bombay Bullets in the Indian Boxing League on Thursday.   -  Twitter (

World Championships silver-medallist Amit Panghal helped Gujarat Giants book a berth in the final of the Big Bout Indian Boxing League with a facile 4-1 win over Bombay Bullets in the first semifinal in New Delhi on Thursday. Chirag and Scott Forrest also played a big part in Gujarat Giants’ win.

Chirag was under pressure since a lot was at stake in his 57kg bout against Kavinder Singh Bisht. British champion Forrest had to overcome memories of a loss to Emmanuel Reyas in the 91kg bout in the league. Both delivered with their ringcraft and never-say-die attitude.

Chirag, the boxer from Jhajjar, and Bisht, who hails from Uttarakhand, had not met in the league stage as the Giants had blocked that bout from the draw after winning the toss. Bisht, whose only loss in the league stage came at the hands of Punjab Panthers’ young Uzbek star Abdulmalik Khalakov, seemed eager to end Chirag’s unbeaten run.

And he backed that determination with a solid showing in the opening round, but Chirag showed terrific mental strength in bouncing back to make a fine impression on the judges to earn a 4-1 verdict. Similarly, having conceded some ground in the first two rounds, Forrest picked up extra points with his relentless attack on the tiring Cuban-born Spaniard in the final round to eke out a narrow win.

 

If there was anything that separated the two heavyweight boxers, it was the Scotsman’s ability to create scoring opportunities for himself while cramping Reyas’ reach. Skipper Panghal, returning to the Giants line-up after two matches, delivered an expected victory over Ananta Chopade. But the 21-year-old Chopade could leave the ring with his head held high after putting up a gallant fight through the three rounds against a boxer who has an Asian Games gold medal and a World Championships silver.

Earlier, Gujarat Giants’ 21-year-old Ashish Kulheria was confidence personified as he cancelled the one-point lead that Bombay Bullets had opened up through Ingrit Lorena Valencia. The Bullets had to rope in the services of Pune professional Siddharth Ravindra Verma, 35, to stand in for their best performer, 20-year-old Naveen Boora who was ruled out of the semifinals by the doctor.

Verma did well to mount a challenge to Ashish Kulheria in the 69kg fight but the gap was evident in each of the three rounds. The confidence and composure with which the younger boxer, an Asian Championships bronze medallist earlier this year, stood out glowingly. Kulheria was in complete command and extended his Big Bout run to five wins.

Bombay Bullets claimed their first point when their skipper Ingrit Lorena Valencia secured a unanimous points verdict against Rajesh Narwal. The result was on expected lines and the Colombian Olympic Games bronze medallist and Pan-American Games champion scored in each of the three rounds, showcasing her superior ringcraft.

The 4-1 win meant that Gujarat Giants' former world champion Sarita Devi (women’s 60kg) did not have to enter the ring and Asian Championship bronze medallist Ashish Kumar would have to wait for another day to settle scores with Rohit Kumar. In the other semifinal on Friday, NE Rhinos will take on Punjab Panthers. The Rhinos had won 4-3 in the last league match on Tuesday. The final will be held on Saturday.