Debutant boxer Amit Panghal (49kg) continued his sensational run to make the final with a hard-fought win but an injured Vikas Krishan (75kg) had to settle for bronze after being declared medically unfit for his semifinal at the 18th Asian Games on Friday. Amit was the lone Indian boxer to make the final in the ongoing edition, beating Philippines’ Carlo Paalam in a 3-2 verdict.
The 22-year-old Armyman, who won a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games earlier this year, will be up against reigning Olympic champion and world championships silver-medallist Hasanboy Dusmatov of Uzbekistan in the summit clash on Saturday.
In a see-saw battle which swung decisively in his favour in the final three minutes, Amit recovered from a shaky opening round. The Filipino was aggressive but Amit too managed to connect just enough right straights to fetch a split verdict in his favour.
“It wasn’t the best of starts by Amit, he took time to settle down, did well in the second round but the Filipino came back strongly in the third. Amit managed to get some clean ones to clinch it. It was very tense,” Indian boxing’s High-Performance Director Santiago Nieva told PTI.
Next up is Dusmatov to whom Amit had lost a close quarterfinal contest in the Hamburg world championships last year.
“It’s time to beat Dusmatov. Amit was not as strong as he is right now at the world championships, the strength difference was evident then but now, Amit is a lot more stronger. I think Dusmatov will be under pressure tomorrow,” said Nieva.
Amit won gold at the prestigious Strandja Memorial Tournament in Bulgaria earlier this year and has been enjoying a breakthrough season. He is also an Asian championships bronze-medallist.
Amit’s draining victory made up, to an extent, for the disappointment of Vikas being forced to withdraw from his last-four bout owing to a cut on his eyelid sustained in the pre-quarters.
The 26-year-old was to take on Kazakhstan’s Amankul Abilkhan this evening.
“There is inflammation in the retina as well and it is too risky to let him fight. He will have to take a break for a few weeks,” an official of the contingent told PTI.
Vikas has, however, managed to script history by becoming the first Indian boxer to clinch three successive Asian Games medals.
He won a lightweight 60kg category gold in Guangzhou 2010, before winning a middle-weight bronze in the 2014 edition in Incheon.
The Haryana-boxer sustained the cut during his pre-quarterfinal bout and the injury aggravated during his gruelling quarterfinal clash against China’s Tuoheta Erbieke Tanglatihan.
The former world championships bronze-medallist, who won a gold at the Commonwealth Games earlier this year, overcame the bleeding to assure himself a medal.
(With PTI Inputs)