World Championships: India might spring a surprise in higher weights, believes Santiago Nieva

Citing the example of Gaurav Bidhuri in the previous World championships in Hamburg, Nieva expected good results from India – which has a total of four bronze medals from the elite event – at this edition in Yekaterinburg, Russia, from September 7 to 21.

Representative Image: High Performance Director Santiago Nieva rued the fact that the International Boxing Association (AIBA) reduced the number of weight categories from 10 to eight in the World championships, following the Tokyo Olympics standards.

Representative Image: High Performance Director Santiago Nieva rued the fact that the International Boxing Association (AIBA) reduced the number of weight categories from 10 to eight in the World championships, following the Tokyo Olympics standards.   -  AP

Indians may be stronger in lighter weights but are capable of springing surprises in higher weights as well in the World boxing championships, feels High Performance Director Santiago Nieva.

Citing the example of Gaurav Bidhuri in the previous World championships in Hamburg, Nieva expected good results from India – which has a total of four bronze medals from the elite event – at this edition in Yekaterinburg, Russia, from September 7 to 21.

“In lighter weights, boxers like (Asian Games champion) Amit Panghal and (Asian championships silver medallist) Kavinder Singh Bisht have beaten Olympic and World champions. We have a good chance, but somebody can surprise us. Last time when all the big names fell, Bidhuri (56kg) came up with a bronze medal,” Nieva told Sportstar, hours before the Indian team’s departure for Yekaterinburg, on Saturday.

“Those who win medals in the World championships will be eligible for the Asia/Oceania continental Olympic qualification tournament (in Wuhan, China, from February 3 to 14). Even though the World championships does not serve as an Olympic qualifier this time, it will be a confidence-booster for those who perform well. It will tell us where we are.”

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Nieva said the door would remain open for Vikas Krishan, who recently made a return from professional boxing. “Vikas joined the camp six weeks ago. He has dropped down from 75kg to 69kg. If he performs at a good level, then he might get a chance.”

Nieva rued the fact that the International Boxing Association (AIBA) reduced the number of weight categories from 10 to eight in the World championships, following the Tokyo Olympics standards. “It’s not a well thought-out decision. We cannot harm our own sport. Like taekwondo or weightlifting, we can have Olympic and non-Olympic weights. India has lost out on medal chances as we have got good boxers in 49kg and 60kg. Hopefully, the AIBA will go back to 10 weights in the next edition.”

The Swedish coach, a member of the AIBA coaches’ commission, was not delighted with the venue of the World qualifier for the Olympics. “I am a little disappointed that it moved from Tokyo to Paris because the Europeans have a lot of influence there,” he said.

The squad: Amit Panghal (52kg), Kavinder Singh Bisht (57kg), Manish Kaushik (63kg), Duryodhan Singh Negi (69kg), Ashish Kumar (75kg), Brijesh Yadav (81kg), Sanjeet (91kg) and Satish Kumar (+91kg).