In a boost to India’s medal hopes, Amit Panghal (52kg), Kavinder Singh Bisht (57kg) and Ashish Kumar (75kg) have been seeded as a total of four Indian boxers get first-round byes ahead of the AIBA Men’s World Championships scheduled to begin in Yekaterinburg, Russia on Monday.
By virtue of being seeded second, the Asian Games gold medallist Panghal has got a first-round bye and enjoys a hassle-free route to the medal rounds where he is likely to face third-seeded Colombian Yuberjen Martínez, a silver medallist at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
If Amit, who bowed out in the quarter-finals of 49kg the last time, can overcome the 2017 World Championships bronze medallist in the semi-finals, he can come up against the top seed and reigning world champion Yosvany Veitía Soto of Cuba.
Having secured a silver medal from the Asian Championships earlier in the year, Kavinder Singh Bisht (57kg) too would be looking to ride on his fifth seed to claim a medal from the World Championships. While the seeding allows him a first-round bye and the liberty of avoiding the top names in the early rounds, Kavinder could have a quarter-final showdown with one of the biggest young talents, Peter McGrail, seeded fourth.
The 23-year-old British boxer pocketed a bronze in the last edition and could subject the Indian to a stern test. A win will put the Indian in the path of the top seed Lázaro Jorge Álvarez Estrada of Cuba, a multiple Olympic Games and World Championships medallist.
Ashish Kumar (75kg) would fancy his chances too, having earned the seventh seeding and a first-round bye as well. The Asian Championships silver medallist could have a face-off with the African Games gold medallist and second seed Allali Tarik in the last-eight stage. If he progresses, he might have a chance to avenge his Asian Championships final loss to Kazakhstan’s Tursynbay Kulakhmet.
91kg specialist Sanjeet is the fourth Indian to have got a bye in the opening round and will take on Scotland’s Scott Forrest in Round 2.
Former India Open champion Manish Kaushik opens his medal hunt against Ahmed Harara of Palestine in 63kg. Duryodhan Singh Negi (69kg) will compete against Armenia’s Koryun Astoyan and Brijesh Yadav (81kg) will fight it out with Poland’s Mateusz Goinski.
While the majority of the Indian pugilists have a breezy opening bout and should be expected to come through, Satish Kumar in +91kg will have to contend with Strandja Cup gold medallist Richard Torrez of USA.
India’s High-Performance Director and Men's Foreign Coach, Santiago Nieva said,
While Gaurav Bidhuri was the lone medallist from India in the previous edition in Hamburg two years ago, Indian boxers are upbeat about clinching multiple medals this time after commendable performances all through the year.
488 athletes from 89 countries will be vying for medals at this elite event that will continue till September 21.