MUMBAI: Manish Kaushik beat four-time Asian Championships medallist Shiva Thapa to seal a berth in the eight-member squad, led by Asian Games champion Amit Panghal, that will represent India at AIBA Men's World Championships in Ekaterinburg (Russia) from September 7 to 21.
While Panghal (52kg) was directly given a place for winning gold at Asian Championships — the original criterion for selection — Kavinder Singh Bisht (57kg), Manish Kaushik (63kg), Duryodhan Singh Negi (69kg), Ashish Kumar (75kg), Brijesh Yadav (81kg), Sanjeet (91kg), and Satish Kumar (+91kg) joined through trials held at NIS Patiala last weekend.
Only the top two boxers from each category were eligible for the trials, with their recent performances being the criteria for selecting the face-off names. Kaushik's win by split decision over former World Championships bronze-medallist Thapa in 63kg was undoubtedly the most notable result from the trials. Thapa had avenged his 2018 India Open loss to Kaushik at this year's India Open in Guwahati to claim gold, but failed to repeat those heroics this time.
"This was a huge confidence-boosting win for me after losing to Shiva in the India Open final. I had been working hard on my stance and footwork since the loss, and I am glad it paid off. I am looking forward to giving my best at World Championships," said Kaushik.
In an absorbing clash in 57kg, Bisht edged Mohammed Hussamuddin through split verdict to claim his place. He had made a splash in his maiden appearance at the last World Championships in 2017, when he upset two-time medallist Mohamed Flissi of Algeria to advance to the quarterfinals.
"I lost out on a golden opportunity to win a medal the last time. This time I would like to make amends. I am targetting nothing less than gold," said Bisht, brimming with confidence.
In 75kg, Ashish faced no problem and thoroughly out-punched Prayag Chauhan to claim a unanimous victory. Negi put on a commendable display in 69kg against Ashish Kulhari. Even though two judges did not rule in his favour, he still managed to grab a win via split verdict.
Brijesh reasserted his supremacy in 81kg by beating Harsh Lakra, while Sanjeet dominated Naman Tanwar in 91kg. Satish did not have to enter the ring for the +91kg bout with his opponent Naveen suffering an injury and being in rehab.
Indian men had put up encouraging displays at Asian Championships and India Open this year, and will be eager to improve upon their performance from the last World Championships, where they won a bronze. This will be the perfect platform to gauge themselves against the world's best before the 2020 Olympic qualifiers begin.