Boxing in Tokyo Olympics: India expected to perform much better than Rio

Considering that India has fielded the biggest and most formidable boxing squad, comprising nine members, in the Olympics, one can hope that boxers will rise to the expectation.

World championships silver medallist Amit Panghal (52kg) will be keen to avenge his loss to Shakhobidin Zoirov of Uzbekistan. (FILE PHOTO)   -  PTI

If India improves its medal tally in the Tokyo Olympics, then boxing should make a significant contribution in it.

Considering that India has fielded the biggest and most formidable boxing squad, comprising nine members, in the Olympics, one can hope that boxers will rise to the expectation.

The experienced Vikas Krishan, a former World championships bronze medallist who will compete in his third Olympics, will open India’s boxing campaign against Sewonrets Okazawa of the host country in a 69kg men’s first round contest.

However, Vikas is likely to have a tough journey if he gets past the local favourite and may face former World and Olympic champion Roniel Iglesias of Cuba and World champion in welterweight and Olympic medallist Russian Andrey Zamkovoy in subsequent rounds.

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Six-time world champion and London Olympics bronze medallist Mary Kom (51kg), who is eager to win the gold here on her second appearance, will be another star attraction.

Mary, who faces Garcia Miguelina of Dominican Republic in the first round, is likely to meet Olympic bronze medallist Colombian Ingrit Valencia next. If she manages to reach the quarterfinals, then Mary should not have too much trouble in securing another medal for her.

World championships silver medallist Amit Panghal (52kg) is one of the brightest prospects for a medal. The top seed, who has got a first round bye, will meet Colombian Yuberjen Martinez, the light fly silver medallist in the Rio Games. A win will enable Amit to take on an Olympic medallist, either Hu Jianguan or Yoel Finol.

Amit will be keen to not only reach the semifinals to ensure a medal but also avenge his loss to World and Olympic champion Shakhobidin Zoirov of Uzbekistan.

Worlds bronze medallist Manish Kaushik (63kg), who has overcome a surgery and a bout of Covid, meets European Games and Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Luke McCormack of Great Britain in the opening round and has a chance of meeting tougher opponents subsequently. A strong boxer, Manish should be happy with his draw as he could have landed in an even stronger group.

Former Asian medallist Ashish Kumar (75kg), who will have a date with Chinese Erbieke Touheta in the first round, has to box out of his skin through a difficult draw to make his mark.

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Satish Kumar, the first Indian boxer to qualify in +91kg, has a favourable draw. After a first round bye, he is facing Ricardo Brown, the first Jamaican boxer to compete in the Olympics.

Among women, World championships medallists Simranjit Kaur (60kg) and Lovlina Borgohain (69kg) have got byes and will begin their campaigns against formidable rivals, two-time Worlds medallists Sudaporn Seedsondee and Nadine Apetz respectively.

Pooja Rani (75kg), a two-time Asian champion, is a strong woman who has slowly built a reputation of being a giant-killer. She has an easier start against Algerian Ichrak Chaib before her possible date with Chinese World champion and Olympic medallist Li Qian in the quarterfinals. Another upset win can change Pooja’s fortune.

Overall, the Indians, who have reached Tokyo after a quality sparring and training camp in Italy, are expected to give a much better performance than the boxers’ forgettable showing in the Rio Games five years ago.

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