Bangkok, April 19: Asian Games gold-medallist Amit Panghal will make his competitive debut in the new weight class of 52 kg in the Asian Boxing Championship which begins here on Friday, and is eyeing the tournament as a platform to understand the strength and weaknesses of Asian boxers in the new category.

The Rohtak-born boxer was forced to shift to the new category as the 49 kg was dropped from the Olympic programme last month by the AIBA, amateur boxing’s world governing body.

Speaking to IANS, Panghal said it will be a challenging task to play in a complete new category however, he has worked on it and is hopeful of another successful tournament.

“It has been a challenge as you need more power and reach in 52 kg. There has been a lot of focus on this aspect and I have worked on it. As more power is involved, I have tried to gain weight,” the 23-year-old said.

Regarding the championship, Panghal said: “I will be playing in 52 kg for the first time. It is a good oppurtunity to know the Asian boxers in this category as it is an olympic weight and it will help me for my World championship prepration.”

With back to back medals in different tournaments in the recent past, Panghal said there wouldn’t be any pressure on him to perform.

“There is not that much pressure as it is my first tournament in this category. The focus will be on knowing the opponent and I will prepare accordingly,” he said.

When asked about Indian boxers’ chances to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, Panghal seemed confident that most of the Indian boxers will seal their place for the mega event.

“Our training has been really good and I think, majority of the boys will qualify. Chief national coach C.A. Kuttappa has made a lot of changes and has trained us really well. The exposure and training has been really great and that is why I believe most of us will be there.”

Panghal however felt the AIBA’s decision to reduce the number of categories in men’s boxing in the Olympics from 10 to eight wasn’t good for Indian boxing as many of the ace boxers competed in those categories.

“We have really good boxers in those two categories and losing them was not good. I think it will affect Indian boxing but we can’t do much to it and so, we are just focusing on to prepare for the new categories,” he concluded.

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