CHENNAI: What seemed unimaginable a few days ago, is a reality now for Indian elite boxers as they are set to step inside the ring during the Asian Championships, which kicks off from Monday. The tournament itself had been postponed last year and had also been shifted from Delhi to Dubai due to the ongoing pandemic situation in India.
Until the time they landed in Dubai, the Indian pugilists’ journey has been a tricky one to say the very least. Amid pandemic, this event will be a huge test of strength, both mental and physical, for everyone ahead of the Tokyo Olympics. The official draw on Sunday finally marked the end of recent troubles and now, they can finally focus on boxing.
Amit Panghal (52 kg), gold medallist in the last edition, has been named the top seed but as expected, he’ll be facing tough rivals who’ll be looking to snatch that top prize away from him. In the opener, he’ll either face Sultan Alnuaimi of UAE or Kharkhuu Enkhmandakh of Mongolia. If he wins his first fight, he could meet the third seed Saken Bibossinov in the semifinals. Panghal’s arch-rival Zoiriv Shakhobidin of Uzbekistan, who beat the Indian in April in an international meet in Russia, is seeded No 2 and the duo could clash in the finals.
Among other Olympic-bound boxers, Ashish Kumar (75 kg) also received a bye and is expected to run into World Championships silver medallist Abilkhan Amankul of Kazakhstan. But before they enter the ring, it will be Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Mohammad Hussamuddin (56 kg), former gold medallist Shiva Thapa (64 kg) and Sumit Sangwan (81kg) who’ll start India’s campaign as they are scheduled to fight on Day 1 of the competition.