Asian Games gold medallist Amit Panghal started the season on a strong note as Indian boxers packed enough power into their punches to assure themselves of five medals in the 70th Strandja Memorial Boxing in Sofia, Bulgaria, on Sunday. Panghal assured a semifinal berth and medal after a closely contested 3-2 win over Ukraine’s Nazar Kurotchyn in the 49kg category.

The Indian women pugilists too guaranteed four medals at the end of the third day at the prestigious tournament. Lovlina Borgohain (69kg), who won the bronze at the 2018 AIBA Wold Women Boxing Championships, put up a robust display to beat Brazil’s Soarez Beatriz in a unanimous 5-0 victory and assure the first medal for the women boxers.

The Brazilian had no answer to Lovina’s attacking game as she secured her place in the top four. Following suit was young boxer, Manju Rani, who served Bonati Roberta of Italy the same fate, thrashing her with a unanimous 5-0 verdict. Manju, the current National Champion in 48 kg category sealed her berth in the semis.

Former world junior champion Nikhat Zareen (51kg) lived up to the expectations by outclassing Buryam Yana of Belarus 5-0. In the day’s last bout for the women boxers, Neeraj defeated Amelia Moore of USA with a similar result to confirm the fifth medal and berth in the semi-final.

2016 World Championship silver winner, Sonia Lather, however, succumbed to a defeat, going down to Ramirez Yarisel of USA 1-4 in the 57kg category.

Earlier in the day, the men’s team too enjoyed positive results. Commonwealth Games gold medallist Gaurav Solanki (52kg) and bronze winner Naman Tanwar (91kg) both advanced to the quarter-finals.

Solanki, taking to the ring within 24 hours of his first-round win, defeated Kazakhstan’s Anvar Muzaparov 3-2 in a hard-fought contest on Saturday night.

The 19-year-old Tanwar, who claimed a bronze in Gold Coast last year, got the better of Poland’s Michal Soczynski 5-0 in a dominating performance.

Solanki will face Uzbekistan’s Fayzov Khudonyazar in the last-eight stage. Khudonyazar defeated local hope Tinko Banabakov in his pre-quarterfinal bout, which was also ended in a split verdict.

Tanwar, on the other hand, will be up against Ukraine’s Serhii Horskov. Horskov out-punched Serbia’s Darko Stankovic in his pre-quarterfinal contest to fetch a 5-0 decision from the judgesl.

However, it was curtains for Ulaan Baatar Cup gold-medallist Ankush Dahiya. Dahiya lost to Macedonia’s Jasin Ljama, the bout lasting just over a minute before the referee stopped the contest. Dahiya is also a former Asian youth silver-medallist.

India’s best medal haul at this European event was last year when the country snared 11 in all, two of them gold.