CHENNAI: Just a few months back, Gaurav Bidhuri had cut a glum figure. The Delhi pugilist had narrowly missed out on his quest: a ticket to the World Championships. He’d gone down in a box-off during the Asian Championship earlier this year in Tashkent (Uzbekistan).
Having suffered an injury on his right hand last year, Bidhuri — who has been in national reckoning since 2011 — had been away from the ring for some time prior to that continental meet. His goal was simple then. Get some competitive feel and make a happy return. However, he fell short of his target.
But his mood at present is a complete contrast. Having had a lucky passage (wild card) to the ongoing Worlds in Hamburg, the bantamweight pugilist (56kg) has grabbed the opportunity with both hands.
With a morale-boosting victory in the pre-quarters against Ukraine’s Mykola Butsenko, he is now just one win away from a medal.A score that reads 4-1 in Bidhuri’s favour might suggest a relatively straightforward win, but it was far from easy.
His opponent was coming into the bout with a formidable record: current European silver medallist and former World Championship bronze medallist. Bidhuri — who made his bow in this event — was an underdog. Meticulous planning and following up helped him overcome the odds.
“I watched his fights. I had charted out certain plans to tackle him after assessing his strengths and weaknesses. I’m sure he must have had his own plans too,” Bidhuri told Express from Hamburg.
Moreover, it was his hunger to win that made him rise to the occasion. “Despite all the planning, it is only possible to execute 30 per cent of it. What I needed the most was the will to win, and I gave him all I had. The coaches by the ringside also pushed me a great deal.”
For a man who was on a quest to get back in shape and start fresh, this outcome is a big shot in the arm. “It’s a massive boost for me. Not long ago I had suffered an injury. Even during the Asian Championships, I felt I fought hard. I had lost there in a split decision, so that tough defeat did give some confidence.”Having come this far, the 24-year-old is determined to keep up this good run. He will face Tunisia’s Bilel Mhamdi next. “I just hope to break the quarterfinals barrier and climb onto the podium. Nobody will care if I lose here. Only if I win a medal will people take note. So, I’m determined to keep my focus, which I feel is crucial at this stage.”
Amit Phangal also put up a big fight to upset seventh seed Carlos Quipo of Ecuador 5-0 in the light flyweight (49kg) category. Kavinder Bisht entered the quarterfinal with a win over Mohamed Flissi of Algeria.
Shiva, Manoj out
In a big blow, defending bronze-medallist Shiva Thapa (60kg) and former Commonwealth Games gold medallist Manoj Kumar (69kg) bowed out of the Worlds on Monday out. Shiva went out without landing a blow owing to food poisoning and high fever. The 31-year-old Manoj went down in a split verdict to fourth-seeded Venezuelan Gabriel Maestre Perez.