World Boxing Championship 2019: Indian men pugilists bracing up to throw medal-winning punch
The men’s world championship will go a few notches up, in terms of competitiveness, as boxers across the globe will be leveraging this ‘big stage opportunity’ to prepare for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Indian men pugilists will have their task cut out at the upcoming 2019 AIBA World Boxing Championship that gets underway at Yekaterinburg, Russia from September 7 to 21. The 20th edition of the men’s world championship will go a few notches up, in terms of competitiveness, as boxers across the globe will be leveraging this ‘big stage opportunity’ to prepare for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. From the Indian perspective, one hopes that the Indian boxers will build on their impressive haul of seven medals – one gold, three silver and three bronze medals at the 2019 Asian Boxing Championship at Bangkok, Thailand and dish out a performance that will send out a message across that they are serious Olympic medal contenders at Tokyo.
Reliance on Amit Panghal
Undoubtedly, the Indian boxing contingent will hope for bigger things from the diminutive but extremely talented Amit Panghal, who has been enjoying a consistent ‘medal run’ since bagging the 2018 Asian Games gold medal in the light flyweight category (49-kg). The Haryana youngster has shown little discomfort shifting to a new weight category – flyweight (52-kg) at the 2019 Asian Boxing Championship as he put it across South Korea’s Kim In-Kyu in the final. Amit will be looking to improve on his quarterfinal finish at the 2017 AIBA World Boxing Championship, where he had lost tamely to Hasanboy Dusmatov of Uzbekistan – it is a different matter altogether that the Indian Army pugilist had exacted sweet revenge over the Uzbek pipping him to the Asiad gold.
Bantamweight boxer (56-kg) Kavinder Singh Bisht, who sparked at the 2017 AIBA World Boxing Championship, upsetting two-time World Championships medallist Mohamed Flissi of Algeria to advance to the quarterfinals on his maiden appearance in the marquee event, will be expected to come up with a blockbuster performance given that he is picked ahead of 2017 World Championship bronze medallist Gaurav Bhiduri in this weight class, as the former got the better of the latter in the highly competitive selection trials. The Indian Air Force boxer, who had won a silver medal at the 2019 Asian Boxing Championship, has a great opportunity to bag a medal he missed out narrowly in the 2017 edition.
The newly-created weight category of 63-kg) will witness rapidly improving Manish Kaushik compete after he had upstaged 2015 World Championship bronze medallist Shiva Thapa in the selection trials – the youngster has been in good form having won the senior nationals for two consecutive years now.
Brijesh Yadav's impressive form
The long injury-induced ring absence of vastly experienced Manoj Kumar meant an opportunity for Duryodhan Singh Negi, who had won a bronze at the President’s Cup in Kazakhstan and a silver at the 2019 India Open in Guwahati. Ashish Kumar has literally made the middleweight (75kg) his own after 2011 World Championship bronze medallist Vikas Krishnan stepped away from the amateur ring this year, winning silver medals at the 2019 Asian Boxing Championship as well as at the 2019 India Open. Brijesh Yadav will box for the country in the light heavyweight category (81-kg) – he had got the better of Harsh Lakra in the trials and has been in decent form this year, bagging silver medals in the Thailand Open and India Open. This was a weight class India did not feature any boxer along with light welterweight (64-kg) in the 2017 world championship.
Expectations on Satish Kumar
The heavyweight category (91-kg) will witness Sanjeet in the ring – the boxer had won the gold at the 2019 India Open and had pipped CWG bronze-medallist Naman Tanwar in the trials. The Indian contingent will also have huge expectations from super heavyweight boxer ( +91-kg) Satish Kumar, who will be making his fourth world championship appearance. One may recall that the Indian Army boxer had reached the quarterfinals of the 2013 AIBA World Boxing Championship, but was declared medically unfit to fight in the semifinals, thus giving a walkover to local hero Ivan Dychko after the Indian had sustained a cut above his right eye during his pre-quarterfinal win over Belarus’ Yan Sudzilouski.
The strapping boxer was a tad unlucky to run into eventual gold medallist Magomedrasul Majidov of Azerbaijan in the first round of the 2017 AIBA World Boxing Championship. Satish will be looking to build on his bronze medal effort at the 2019 Asian Boxing Championship and come out all guns blazing at Yekaterinburg. “I don’t wish to get into predictions about how many medals we can win, but we are determined to improve on what we achieved in the 2017 AIBA World Championship. Our boxers have been in good form having won seven medals at the Asian Championships, and we hope they will deliver in the marquee event," said Indian men’s boxing team's High Performance Director Santiago Nieva in an exclusive phone chat from Yekaterinburg, Russia.
Nieva, however, pointed out that competition will be very intense this time around:
The Swede was cautiously optimistic about Asiad gold medallist Amit Panghal. “Amit has moved to 52-kg, but for this weight class he has the height disadvantage but makes up for it with his swift movements in the ring as well as boxing intelligence - he has many other skills to compensate his shorter height.”
It may be mentioned here that the country has so far won four medals at the AIBA World Boxing Championship – all bronze medals coming via Vijender Singh in 2009, Vikas Krishan in 2011, Shiva Thapa in 2015 and Gaurav Bhiduri in 2017 – two of these medals came in the bantamweight category and one each in welterweight and middleweight categories. No Indian has been able to win either a silver or gold at this marquee event. Hopefully, the 2019 edition will see Indian boxers conquer that ‘frontier’.