Dubai: Sanjeet (91kg) fetched the lone gold among Indian men boxers with a stunning triumph over Kazakhstan’s Olympic-medallist Vassiliy Levit even as defending champion Amit Panghal (52kg) and Shiva Thapa (64kg) settled for silver medals in the Asian Boxing Championships here on Monday.
Sanjeet triumphed 4-1 over Levit, who was chasing his fourth gold of the tournament and is an Olympic silver-medallist.
With 15 medals in this edition, India surpassed its previous best-ever show at this Championship, achieved in 2019, when the country secured 13 medals in all, including two gold.
This time too, the country finished with two gold medals.
The Army man, who is a former India Open gold-medallist, claimed the first two rounds in an evenly-contested bout before Levit fought back in the final three minutes.
Panghal lost 2-3 to known nemesis Shakhobidin Zoirov of Uzbekistan in what was a repeat of the 2019 world championship final, which had also ended in Zoirov’s favour.
India sought a review of the second round of the bout but the protest was rejected by the jury which stuck to the original decision.
“I dedicate this silver medal to my coach Anil Dhanker. I wish he was here with me in Dubai,” Panghal tweeted referring to his personal coach.
Thapa (64kg) also lost by the same margin to Mongolia’s Baatarsukh Chinzorig, the reigning Asian Games silver-medallist. This was Thapa’s fifth successive podium finish and second silver at the showpiece.
Both the contests had the Indian boxers doing most things right but not getting the judges’ nod.
The Panghal-Zoirov clash lived up to the hype with both the Olympic-bound boxers engaged in a fast exchange of punches from the very first round.
Zoirov claimed the opening round. But in the second round, Panghal raised his game by a notch, evading Zoirov’s range with his pace and landing his left straights precisely. Zoirov, on the other hand, struggled to connect.
The two went all out in the third round but it was Panghal who was more impressive with his body shots despite an injured eye.
He even had the judges’ verdict in his favour for the round but it was not enough to alter the final score-line as Zoirov had the requisite scores thanks to the varied scoring across three rounds.
Thapa was equally impressive against Chinzorig, rallying brilliantly after losing the opening round.
But he lost the all-important final round in a fight that became messy due to close range punching.
“This has been a challenging year for all of us and despite all the uncertainties our boxers had to undergo, it is absolutely heartening to see them ending the Asian Championships campaign with 15 medals including two golds…,” said Boxing Federation of India President Ajay Singh.
“Our boxers have yet again ensured a record-breaking feat and I am extremely proud of each one of them. These performances I am sure will motivate all our boxers to put more efforts ahead of the Olympics and help realise Mission 2021 by winning medals in Tokyo,” he added.
On Monday, Pooja Rani (75kg) was the lone woman boxer to strike gold, while six-time world champion M C Mary Kom (51kg), and tournament debutants Lalbuatsaihi (64kg) and Anupama (81+kg) ended with silver medals after close losses in the women’s finals.
Eight other Indians — Simranjit Kaur (60kg), Vikas Krishan (69kg), and Lovlina Borgohain (69kg), and Jaismine (57kg), Sakshi Chaudhary (64kg), Monika (48kg), Saweety (81kg) and Varinder Singh (60kg) — secured bronze medals after semifinal losses.
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