Ahmedabad: World championships medallist Shiva Thapa breathed fire on the ring to outclass his Gujarati opponent Aniket J Pandey, and advance to the quarterfinals of the 36th National Games at the Mahatma Mandir here on Friday. Also advancing to the last eight stage was Assam’s Manju Basumatary, who registered a thrilling 3-2 win over Gujarat’s Hetal Sundarji Dama in the women’s flyweight 52kg opener

Shiva, known for his swift movements in the ring, warmed up in style by recording a 5-0 unanimous verdict win over home pugilist Aniket J Pandey. The home boxer was no match to the five-time Asian championship medalist from Assam, who used all his experience into play to keep the Gujarat boxer at bay. 

“It was a great start for me, personally, in the new weight division. The National Games is the perfect platform to assess the talent in your weight category across the country. Every bout is important, it doesn’t matter who the opponent is, we take everyone as equal,” he told EastMojo after the bout.

“As the weight divisions have changed, there are many boxers who have come up from the 63.5kg to 67kg and many from higher weights have come down, so the competition level has automatically gone up,” Shiva added.

Set to take part at the Asian Championship in the 63.5kg category, Shiva is eyeing the 67kg gold medal at the National Games to keep himself in the hunt for the continental meet in Amman from October 30. 

“I’m currently participating at the 67kg category, also at the national camp I am used to sparring with boxers of 67kg, that gives me some extra inches of punches. It is always advisable when you practise with boxers of a higher weight division. Boxers tend to forget technique when they over utilise power,” he said.

How difficult is it to maintain the weight, considering the 15-day gap between the National Games and the Asian Championship? 

“It isn’t much difficult, once you are back at the national camp, you will have to get back to your basics and work on the appropriate weight. But what’s more important is the mental aspect of the game when you need to switch categories,” he said.

On the distractions which had hurt him earlier in his career, Shiva was quick to point out, “Those are part and parcel of every human being’s life, more so for athletes, who are focussed on their training day in and night. Fortunately for me, there is no such baggage at the moment, hopefully the things work in my favour,” he quipped.

Meanwhile, world championship medallist Simranjit Kaur Baath of Punjab and world youth champion Sachin Siwach (57kg) of Haryana, registered stunning wins to progress in their respective categories.

Sachin, who recently bagged a bronze in the Elorda Cup in Kazakhstan, dished out a clinical show to outclass Arunachal Pradesh’s Amir Tajo in the men’s 57kg featherweight category bout. Going into the clash as a clear favourite, Sachin lived up to his billing and clinched the contest by RSC. Similarly, Asian championship bronze medalist Saweety Boora of Haryana got off to a winning start in the women’s 75kg middleweight division pre-quarter final bout.

Punjab’s Simranjit looked in ominous form in her opening bout of women’s lightweight 60kg category as she unsettled 2019 National championship bronze medallist Rinki Sharma of Uttar Pradesh with ease. The 2018 world championship bronze medallist dominated the proceedings throughout the contest, starting the bout by landing a few headshots before using her combination punches to good effect against the 23-year-old UP boxer, who looked clueless across the three rounds. Simranjit, who was part of the Tokyo Olympics team, managed to breach through her opponent’s defence on multiple occasions, before forcing the referee to give a standing count of eight to Rinki in the final round, en-route to her unanimous 5-0 victory.

“I was playing against Rinki for the first time, so it took some time to understand her style of boxing. It was a good warm-up for me going forward to the next rounds,” she said after the bout. 

Also Read | National Games: Assam’s Jamuna, Ankushita set the ring on fire

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