India’s Asian Games gold-medallist Amit Panghal (52kg) became the first Indian on Friday to enter the World Men’s Boxing Championship final, assuring at least a silver medal. Fellow boxer Manish Kaushik (63kg), on the other hand, had to satisfy himself with a bronze medal after going down in the semifinal.
Second-seeded Panghal edged past 3-2 against Saken Bibossinov of Kazakhstan in the last-four event.
“The bout went very well for me although I had to put in more effort than I had thought. It is a huge achievement for Indian boxing, and I am thankful for all the support that I have got,” a triumphant Panghal said after the hard-won victory. “I am going to push hard for a gold,” said Panghal.
Sports Authority of India (SAI): Boxer Amit Panghal beats Saken Bibossinov 3-2 in 52 kg category, to become the 1st Indian to reach the final at Men’s World Boxing Championships. Panghal will play Uzbekistan’s Shakhobidin Zoirov for the gold tomorrow.
— ANI (@ANI) September 20, 2019
Panghal will now be taking on the reigning Olympic champion, Uzbekistan’s Shakhobidin Zoirov on Saturday. Zoirov beat Billal Bennama of France in his semifinal bout.
Prior to the ongoing competition, India had never won more than a bronze medal in a single edition of the world championships. The past Indian medal winners at the world meet include Vijender Singh (2009), Vikas Krishan (2011), Shiva Thapa (2015) and Gaurav Bidhuri (2017).
However, Panghal and Kaushik had changed that by making the semifinals.
However, his compatriot and Commonwealth Games silver medallist Kaushik couldn’t witness the same fate. Playing in his debut world championship, the Indian pugilist lost 0-5 to top-seeded Andy Gomez Cruz of Cuba. Cruz is the reigning champion in the category, having won the gold-medal in the previous edition besides also being the defending Pan-American Games champion.
“I gave it my all, but I guess there are a few things lacking in my game, which I will try to improve on. I will work harder and deliver better results in the coming tournaments,” Kaushik said after the match.
The rise of Panghal has been one of the most spectacular of Indian boxing. Having claimed a 49kg category bronze in the 2017 Asian Championships, Amit went on to appear in the quarterfinals of the World Championship on debut the same year. The Indian went on to win consecutive gold medals at the prestigious Strandja Memorial in Bulgaria, before being crowned as the Asian Games champion in 2018.