New Delhi, Oct 17: He managed to impress none other than Manny Pacquiao enroute to becoming only the third Indian pugilist ever to clinch a World Championships medal and the fast-rising Shiva Thapa is now eyeing a stint in the World Series of Boxing to qualify for next year’s Olympics.(Read: When Cheteshwar Pujara turned host for Team India ahead of Rajkot ODI)

The 21-year-old bantamweight (56kg) boxer, who joined Vijender Singh (2009) and Vikas Krishan (2011) as a rare World Championships medallist with his bronze in Doha, could not clinch an Olympic quota berth after losing in the box-off to Belarus’ Dzmitry Asanau.

Back with a new-found self-belief, Shiva said the job is only half done as he still has to book a ticket to Rio de Janeiro. “I am certainly more confident about myself after the World Championships. There is a self-belief that I can stand up to any guy whether it’s a Kazakh, whether it’s an Uzbek. The draw, which can cause a few butterflies in the stomach sometimes, I don’t think it matters anymore,” Shiva told PTI in an interview after returning to the country in the wee hours this morning.

“I will give WSB a shot because there is a chance to qualify for Olympics from there. So that is definitely on my mind and should work out by November. If it doesn’t, then the Asian Olympic qualifiers are also there in March,” said Shiva, who was part of the USA WSB franchise last year.

In his previous stint in the WSB, the results were not that great for the boxer but his style caught the attention of Iron Mike Productions, a boxing promotions company co-owned by Mike Tyson. And at Doha, he was noticed by Pacquiao after a brilliant knockout win in the pre-quarters. Pacquiao was a special guest at the event and was in Doha for a whirlwind day-long trip.

The punch that got him the win was declared the ‘shot of the day’ by the International Boxing Association’s (AIBA) TV magazine. “While I was walking towards the ring for my bout, he was going towards the stands to meet the Filipino team. So, we crossed each other and it was nice of him to wish me luck. After the knockout win that I got against Qatar, the AIBA Magazine commentators said that my winning left hook was the shot of the day and it caught the eye of Manny Pacquiao.

It was a huge confidence-booster,” Shiva said. “But I could not meet him in person because he was with the Filipino team all through.” Asked how improved does he feel as a boxer, Shiva said, “I feel I have become a lot more steady in my mind, I think better in the ring, adapt better and my back-paddling has improved drastically. Besides, I realised my left hook is damn good and I should be using it more often,” he said.

“But yes, I have to keep improving because I did lose. Although, I would say I am very satisfied with how I performed. I could not win the semis and the box-off but I made sure that I didn’t feel let down by my performance. I managed to show that I am no pushover against anybody,” he added.

But neither the improvements in his game nor the steadiness of mind have come easy, the biggest price being to stay away from family for almost a year. “I have not gone home for the last eight months. So, I am terribly home sick right now. But these are decisions that I took for myself that I would focus on one thing. I have got good results but I am targetting more. I head home tomorrow and will take a break for a few days because that’s also very important after a big event,” he said.

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