World Boxing C’ships: Gaurav Bhiduri ends with bronze

The Indian loses his semifinal clash to American Duke Ragan.

Gaurav Bidhuri joins Vijender Singh, Vikas Krishan and Shiva Thapa as a World Championship medallist.   -  PTI

Gaurav Bidhuri gave a valiant performance before losing to a superior opponent, 19-year-old Duke Ragan of the U.S.A., in a 56kg semifinal bout to settle for a bronze medal in the World boxing championships at Hamburg on Thursday.

Twenty-four-year-old Bidhuri, who became the fourth Indian male boxer to win a Worlds medal, lost to the American National champion and 2015 Olympic qualifier champion by a unanimous 5-0 decision.

Bidhuri, who needed to punch fast against the powerful Ragan, did well to curb his aggression and focus on his defence and dodging skills. The Indian replied with his combination of punches when Ragan landed some well-directed blows in the opening round.

World No. 21 ranked Ragan's counterattacks, consisting of fast and solid jabs on Bidhuri's head and body, helped him get the better of the Indian in the following round. Bidhuri used combinations of hooks and upper cuts to give a good account of himself. However, the calm and composed American moved around well and unleashed some accurate straight punches and a few stunning jabs, including a double left, to get the better of Bidhuri in the final round.

Ragan's warm hug and a pat on head on Bidhuri's head following the announcement of the result spoke of winner's appreciation for the Indian's big-hearted show.

Surprise factor

World No. 41 Bidhuri, who had defeated Sam Goodman of Australia, former World championship bronze medallist and 15th-ranked Mykola Butsenko of Ukraine and 20th-ranked Bilel Mhmadi of Tunisia to reach the last four, admitted that the American surprised him.

“Both of us had studied each other's style and were well prepared; however, he changed his style completely on the spot, which came as a surprise. His current coach used to be my coach at some point and Duke had additional inputs on my style which they used really well. But he (Regan Duke) boxed really well,” said Bidhuri.

“He did not attack, rather he waited for me to attack so that he could counter and hit me sideways, with more clear shots. Initially I also played the waiting game, but later as time was running out, I attacked and he responded with counter-punches. The fight was definitely not one-sided and I gave my best.

“This championship has been a dream run for me. I have never boxed so well. But I am upset as I couldn't gift my dad the opportunity to see me making history,” said Bidhuri.