World Boxing C'ships: Amit Panghal vs Shakhobidin Zoirov - all you need to know

Here's all you need to know about Amit Panghal and his World Championships final opponent, Shokhobidin Zoirov.

Amit Panghal celebrates after winning his semifinal bout.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

When Indian boxer Amit Panghal beat Kazakhstan's Saken Bibbinsinov by split decision to seal a spot in the final of the 52kg category at the World Boxing Championships, he made history, becoming the first Indian to make it to the gold medal bout.

Here's everything you need to know about the 23-year-old:

Who is Amit Panghal?

Born into a farming family from Mayna, a village in Haryana's Rohtak district, Amit's fascination with boxing came from his brother, Ajay who he credits for his timely pointers and support.

READ: Amit Panghal one bout away from historic gold

Career Highlights

The young amateur boxer caught the country's attention when he won the 49kg national title on debut in Guwahati in 2016.

He followed that up with a bronze in the Asian Championships in 2017, which then led to his maiden World Championships appearance.

He made it to the quarterfinal of the event but was ultimately beaten by Uzbekistani Olympic gold medallist Hasanboy Dusmatov.

Amit got his revenge just a year later, beating Dusmatov in the Asian Games to clinch gold. He also registered a silver at the Commonwealth Games that year to his name.

Change in category

The 49kg category that Amit usually competed in was discontinued from the Olympics, forcing the boxer to change his category to the 52kg bracket. This didn't seem to affect his form too much, with the pugilist going on to win gold in the Asian Boxing Championships, where he beat South Korea's Kim In-Kyu for top honours.

Recognition

Amit's meteoric rise in Asian and World Boxing was recognised by the government. In 2018, the BFI recommended him for the Arjuna Award.

The bout in focus: World Championships Final

Amit Panghal faces Uzbekistan's Shakhobidin Zoirov in his fight for the World Championship gold medal later today.

 

Why is the bout historic?

Panghal who is assured of a silver and bronze medallist Manish Kaushik (who competes in the 63kg category) have helped India register its best performance in the World event. India has never had two semifinalists at the C'ships for amateur pugilists.

Irrespective of whether Panghal wins or loses, his showing will be India's best at the marquee event, as the bronze medal, which Kaushik, Vijender Singh (2009), Vikas Krishan (2011),  Shiva Thapa (2015) and Gaurav Bidhuri (2017) have each won, is the best India has done here so far.

How does this matter in the Tokyo2020 equation?

Panghal and Kaushik have secured a berth in the Olympic qualifiers next year, after the BFI stated that medal winners at the Championships will be automatically chosen for the same.

The opponent - Shakhobidin Zoirov - what we know

Zoirov is a decorated boxer and is a deadly opponent to go up against. A gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics, a silver medal at the 2014 Incheon Asia Games, a silver medal each at the Asian Amateur Championships in 2013 and 2015 highlight an impressive boxing resume for the Uzbekitani.

Zoirov moved between the 52kg and 56kg categories and also turned professional for a while before returning to Russia for the World's. Panghal has never faced Zoirov before and admits that he knows little about the Olympian going into the bout. He will need a strong strategy to get the better of the man tonight.

When does the bout start and where can you watch it?

The 52kg final will be the first bout of the day and is scheduled for 7.30pm IST. You can watch the bout live on the AIBA Boxing YouTube channel.