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Boxing Worlds: Four Indians march into quarters

Last updated on: September 17, 2019 21:57 IST

IMAGE: Sanjeet celebrates after defeating second-seeded Uzbek Sanjar Tursunov to enter the AIBA Men's World Boxing Championships.

The Indian juggernaut seemed unstoppable as four boxers, including Asian champion Amit Panghal (52kg), advanced to the quarter-finals with impressive victories to round off an all-win outing at the AIBA Men's World Boxing Championships, in Ekaterinburg, Russia, on Tuesday.

Asian Games gold-medallist and second seed Panghal was joined by Asian silver-winner and fifth seed Kavinder Singh Bisht (57kg) and the debutant duo of Commonwealth Games silver-winner Manish Kaushik (63kg) and Sanjeet (91kg).

 

Panghal defeated Turkey's Batuhan Citfci, while Kaushik stunned fourth-seeded Mongolian Chinzorig Baatarsukh, who is an Asian Games silver-medallist and also a two-time medal-winner at the Asian Championships. Both the Indians claimed 5-0 victories.

Sanjeet (91kg) then caused another massive upset by defeating second-seeded Uzbek Sanjar Tursunov 4-1. Tursunov is a bronze-medallist from the previous World Championship besides being an Asian silver-medal winner.

In the evening session, Bisht defeated Finland's Arslan Khataev 3-2 to claim a second successive quarter-final spot at the marquee tournament.

Panghal is also chasing a medal in his second World Championship after a quarter-final finish in 2017. Kaushik and Sanjeet are making their debuts at the showpiece. All four boxers are from the Services Sports Control Board (SSCB).

Second-seeded Panghal, the reigning Asian champion, will next be up against Filipino Carlo Paalam, who had lost to Panghal in the semi-finals of the Asian Games in Jakarta last year. Paalam defeated Korea's Jo Sehyeong in a unanimous verdict in his pre-quarterfinal bout.

Kaushik, on the other hand, will square off against Brazil's Wanderson de Oliveira. Oliveira defeated Japan's Saisuke Narimatsu in his last-16 stage bout.

Sanjeet will be up against seventh-seeded Julio Cesa Castillo Torres of Ecuador, who got the better of Hungary's Adam Hamori.

IMAGE: Amit Panghal, left, lands a punch on his opponent Turkey's Batuhan Citfci.

Awaiting Bisht in the last-eight stage is fourth-seeded Englishman Peter McGrail, a former gold-medallist at the European Championships and reigning Commonwealth Games champion. McGrail, who fetched a bronze in the last World Championship, defeated Azerbaijan's Tayfur Aliyev on Tuesday.

"It was a good bout as I fought against an experienced boxer. I will be ready with my strategy for Paalam tomorrow. I dedicate this win to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is celebrating his 69th birthday today," Panghal said after the bout.

Panghal was the first to take the ring for India and in a contest which did not have much of action to start with, he set the ball rolling by using his left hooks to good effect in the opening round.

Citfci seemed focussed on a plan to counter-attack but could not execute it. This was despite the fact that Panghal was lunging at the taller boxer to connect his left straights.

Even though he managed to draw the Indian in, Citfci consistently failed to make any impactful contact with his opponent, whose trademark pace once again gave him a decisive edge.

Kaushik, a former national champion, adopted a more cautious approach and waited for his rival to reach out. Baatarsukh fell into the trap quite early and was unable to cope with the Indian's counter-attack.

Kaushik did not change his tactics and the consistent approach paid off for him as frustration became apparent in Baatarsukh's game. Kaushik dominated him in the final three minutes.

"I stuck to the strategy that was given to me by my coaches and I am happy that it got me the result I wanted," Kaushik said.

Sanjeet's was the last bout of the afternoon session and he hardly looked intimidated by his more fancied rival.

The India Open gold-medallist was the quicker of the two and connected more accurately in the intense battle during which even Tursunov acknowledged Sanjeet's grit.

"I had beaten this guy in the India Open. He had power but I managed to outwit him on counter-attack. He got hit quite a lot on my counter-attacks," Sanjeet said after the bout.

Bisht was the last Indian boxer in action on Tuesday and displayed a solid defensive strategy to outwit his sprightly opponent.

Khataev was guilty of excessive holding during the bout but Bisht managed to keep his distance at crucial junctures to land combination blows.

The Indian had a bloodied forehead at the end of the contest after a cut sustained in the previous bout opened up in the third round.

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