Bangkok, April 25: Asian Games champion Amit Panghal (52kg) took a giant stride towards yet another gold medal as he led six Indians – four men and two women – into the finals of the Asian Boxing Championships here on Thursday.
In an electrifying performance, Amit, also a 2017 Asian Championships silver medallist, decimated China’s Jianguan Hu 4-1 to march into the summit clash.
In her first bout of the entire tournament, Pooja Rani (81kg) put up an immaculate display of power and precision to knock out Fariza Sholtay of Kazakhstan 5-0. This is her third medal from this prestigious tournament after a silver in 2012 and a bronze in 2015.
“I was playing in 81 for the first time and I was scared as my opponent was taller than me but once I stepped inside the ring, I got the confidence and played my attacking game. Tomorrow, I am up against the current World Champion and it will be my first time against her,” said Pooja after her semi-final victory.
Kavinder Singh Bisht was sharp and agile as ever in the 56kg semi-final bout with Enkh-Amar Kharkhuu of Mongolia. Kavinder, the GeeBee Boxing Cup gold medallist, held his nerves to secure a 4-1 win in a nerve-wracking encounter. He suffered a cut during the high-intensity contest and hopes to be fully ready for the final.
“My opponent was an aggressive boxer like me. The focus was on dodging his punches and giving it back to him and I am glad my plan worked. I am very confident for tomorrow and hopefully, will win gold for my country,” said an elated Kavinder after the bout.
Ashish Kumar (75kg) put up an audacious display to eke out Mousavi Seyedshahin of Iran in a split 3-2 win and advance to his first ever Asian Championships final.
2018 World Championships bronze medallist Simranjit Kaur (64kg) was too strong for Maftunakhon Melieva of Uzbekistan whom she got the better of in a unanimous decision.
Deepak (49kg) entered the final without having to enter the ring as his opponent had a cut and gave a walkover.
The 37-year-old Sarita Devi (60kg) had to be content with the bronze medal after going down to 2016 world champion Wenlu Yang of China. This was the veteran Manipur pugilist’s eighth Asian Championships medal of a glorious career that also has World Championships gold. Sarita had won a silver in 2001 to open her medal tally from this tournament and then added five gold medals in 2003, 2005, 2008, 2010 and 2012. In 2017 she came up with a bronze.
Shiva Thapa (60kg), who had earlier become the first Indian boxer to win medals from four consecutive Asian Championships, had to be satisfied with the bronze after he lost 1-4 to Zakir Safiullin of Kazakstan in an enthralling contest.
In 69kg, Ashish’s dream run came to an end when Uzbekistan’s Bobo-Usmon Baturov inflicted defeat on the Indian.
Former world junior champion Nikhat Zareen (51kg), who created a flutter a couple of days ago by stunning the two-time world champion Nazym Kyzaibay, had to bite the dust in a 0-5 loss to Vietnam’s Nguyen Thi Tam. This bronze is her first medal from the Asian Championships.
2018 World Championships silver medallist Sonia Chahal’s (57kg) quest to clinch a gold also was interrupted by a 3-2 decision that went in favour of Asian Games bronze medallist Nilawan Techasuep of Thailand.
In her Asian Championships debut, Manisha Moun (54kg) earned a creditable bronze when she lost to Taiwan’s Huang Hsiao-Wen 2-3 in a split decision in the semi-finals.
Former Asian Games bronze medallist Satish Kumar (+91kg) had to opt out of his fight with Kamshybek Kunkabayev of Kazakhstan as he had suffered a cut.