Indian boxers created history by ensuring three medals at the World Boxing Championships for the first time as they advanced to the semifinals on Wednesday in Tashkent.
Deepak Bhoria (51kg), Mohammed Hussamuddin (57kg), and Nishant Dev (71kg) assured themselves of at least a bronze medal each after emerging victorious in their respective quarterfinal bouts.
Nishant produced another commanding performance as he defeated Jorge Cuellar of Cuba by a 5-0 unanimous decision.
The Indian pugilist was facing a taller boxer with a good height advantage but used his movements and precise punches to gain an advantage over his rival in the first round.
The second round also went in the favor of the Indian boxer as he continued to be on top of his game and denied any scoring opportunity to Cuellar. Nishant, then, continued his attacking intent in the third round as well to ensure a medal for the country.
"It's a great feeling to win a match against a Cuban boxer by a unanimous verdict. Our strategy was to create pressure on the opponent from the first round and stay strong mentally during the whole bout. I will take this positive mindset in the next round as well to reach the final. Securing a bronze medal at the World Championships is great but I will be back to India with a gold medal," commented Nishant after the match.
Nishant Dev will fight Asian champion Aslanbek Shymbergenov of Kazakhstan in the semi-finals on Friday.
Two-time Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Hussamuddin had to toil hard as he eked out a 4-3 split decision win in a close fight against J Diaz Ibanez of Bulgaria.
It was a neck-and-neck battle between both the boxers from the get-go as Hussamuddin took some time to gauge Ibanez's movements. The Southpaw used his speed and movement to defend and land some heavy blows on his opponent while counter-punching.
The second round was rather comfortable for the Indian pugilist as he quickly judged his rival's attacks and hit heavy punches. The third round saw both the boxers throw caution to the wind and go on the offensive but Hussamuddin used his combinations well to secure the win.
"It was a tough bout because my opponent was playing rough and it caused me some problems but somehow I prevailed to win and proceed to the next round. I had made plans with the coach before the bout and implemented if perfectly in the match. We planned to keep moving in the ring and make my opponent work to reach me to attack and it worked perfectly as I hit a lot of side blows to gather points in the bout," stated Hussamuddin after the victory.
Hussamuddin will go up against Saidel Horta of Cuba in the semi-finals on Friday.
Earlier in the day, Deepak Bhoria defeated Nurzhigit Diushebaev of Kyrgyzstan by a 5-0 unanimous verdict to continue his scintillating run in the flyweight category, which will feature at the Paris Olympics.
Such was the Indian's domination that the referee was forced to give Diushebaev two standing counts in the latter stages of the bout. Throwing punches from a distance, Deepak looked for opportunities to land clean and accurate punches.
Trailing 0-5, Diushebaev started the second round on an aggressive note but Deepak put up a solid defense and counter-attacked with a combination of punches.
One such onslaught led to the referee giving Diushebaev his first eight counts. Having taken the opening two rounds, Deepak was more defensive in the final three minutes. He boxed smartly, landing jabs whenever he got the opportunity.
The Indian men's boxers have secured three medals for the first time in the history of the World Boxing Championships. Earlier, the best performance of the Indian men's boxers was recorded in 2019 when Manish Kaushik and Amit Panghal clinched medals for the country.
(With PTI Inputs)