With India’s first ever biggest contingent on the World Stage, the Indian pugilists were off to a phenomenal start at the 19th World Boxing Championships in Hamburg. India sent eight boxers to the 2017 AIBA World Boxing Championships – Shiva Thapa, Vikas Krishan, Sumit Sangwan, Kavinder Singh Bisht, Amit Panghal, Manoj Kumar, Satish Kumar and Gaurav Bhiduri.
India commenced on a resounding note as Light Flyweight (49kg) Amit, and Bantamweight Gaurav Bidhuri (56kg) both delivered impressive performances on an opening day to reach the second round, as both the boxers made their debut at the mega event.
Asian bronze-medallist Amit faced off Italy’s Federico Serra in the first round. The 21-year-old from Haryana made a sluggish start. However, in the second and third round, he outclassed his opponent with some well-placed hooks and straights, to win the first bout by split verdict and advance into the second round. He has been slated to face Carlos Quipo of Ecuador who got a first round bye.
Gaurav was up against Australian 18-year-old youth bronze- medallist and Oceania champion Sam Goodman. The 23-year-old Delhi boxer won the bout unanimously riding on his relentless attack and upper cuts. Awaiting him in the second round is Mauritian Jean-Jordy Vadamootoo.
On the second day of the tournament, Manoj Kumar defeated Vasilii Belous of Moldova in the opening bout in an exhausting welterweight (69kg) contest. The 31- year-old former Commonwealth Games gold-medallist went all guns blazing in the first two rounds. The Moldovan had no reply but threw wild swings. Tiredness crept in, but Manoj had already done his job. He won and advanced to the next round. Venezuelan Gabriel Maestre Perez will be waiting for him in the second round.
Asian Championships quarter-finalist Kavinder Bisht fought and won against Japan’s Ryusei Baba in the flyweight (52kg) event. Kavinder measured his opponent well and started slow. The Japanese took charge in the opening round, but Kavinder staged a commendable fight back in the last two rounds. Kavinder notched up his aggression in the final round and clinched the opening game by judges decision in his favour. He will now lock horns with Algerian Mohamed Flissi in the second round.
However, Asian Games bronze-medallist Satish Kumar crashed out from the tournament losing his opening bout against Azerbaijan’s two-time world champion Mahammadrasul Majidov on day two.
On day three, Amit Phangal and Gaurav Bidhuri marched into the quarter finals after winning their respective second round bouts. The 21-year-old hit straight and clean to outclass Ecuador’s Carlos Quipo. Amit frustrated his opponent with his counter attacks and emerged as the better boxer.
22-year-old Gaurav, who made it to the tournament on a wildcard after missing out on automatic qualification, matched his opponent well in every department and fought relentlessly. The judges declared him the winner by a split verdict.
But disappointment prevailed for Vikas Krishan (75kg) and Asian silver-medallist Sumit Sangwan (91kg) who faced defeat and exit the World Championships.
Vikas, a bronze-winner from the 2011 World Championships, was comprehensively out punched by 19-year-old English Benjamin Whittaker. Vikas couldn’t match with Benjamin’s pace, Nicknamed “The Future” Benjamin utilised his advantage of height and glided around the two-time Asian Games medalist and defeated Vikas.
Another boxer in the fray Sumit Sangwan lost to Australia’s Jason Whateley in a split decision. Opening strongly, Sumit fell behind in the last two rounds and Jason wrapped up the bout to advance to the next round.
With the AIBA World Boxing Championships 2017 advancing into the fourth day, Indian boxers will be looking for some exciting and electrifying bouts inside the ring as Shiva Thapa (60 Kg) Manoj Kumar (69 Kg) and Kavinder Bisht (52 Kg) will be fighting it out for honour and glory.