Defending champion Amit Panghal (52kg) and the redoubtable Vikas Krishan (69kg) were among three Indian boxers who advanced to the semifinals on Wednesday as the country assured itself of an unparalleled medal haul of 15 in the Asian Boxing Championships here. Debutant Varinder Singh (60kg) was the other Indian to make the last four. Panghal secured a second successive medal after overcoming a stiff challenge from Mongolia’s Kharkhuu Enkhmandakh in the last-eight stage, while Varinder defeated Filipino Jere Samuel Dela Cruz 5-0.
Vikas then pulled off a hard-fought 4-1 triumph over Iran’s Moslem Maghsoudi Mal Amir as India surpassed its previous best medal haul of 13 that was achieved in the 2019 edition.
The World Championship silver-winning Panghal, who is bound for Tokyo Olympics, won 3-2 in a high-octane contest in which he overcame a sluggish start and used his combination punches to telling effect in the last two rounds.
After being somewhat bested in the opening three minutes, the top-seeded Army man’s trademark pace came to fore in the second round as he cleverly dodged his rival’s aggressive attempts at connecting.
The Mongolian produced some fine body punches to unsettle Panghal but took quite a few hits on the counter-attack.
Panghal will square off against Kazakhstan’s Saken Bibossinov. He had beaten Bibossinov in the 2019 world championship finals.
Vikas, also Tokyo-bound, played his usual defensive game but was pushed quite hard by Amir, who gave the Indian a cut above his left eye.
Vikas has set up a mouth-watering semifinal clash with top seed and defending champion Bobo-Usmon Baturov of Uzbekistan. Baturov is also the reigning Asian Games champion and a bronze-medallist from the world championships.
National champion Varinder scored on counter-attacks against the swift-moving Dela Cruz to secure a medal on debut at the event.
Late on Tuesday night, Sanjeet (91kg), Sakshi (54kg), Jaismine (57kg) and the Olympic-bound Simranjit Kaur (60kg) joined Shiva Thapa (64kg) in the last four stage following wins in their quarterfinal bouts.
They added to the seven medals, including that of six-time world champion M C Mary Kom (51kg), that were assured on the day of draws.
India Open gold-winner Sanjeet defeated Jasur Qurbonov of Tajikistan 5-0 to enter the semifinals in the men’s draw along with Thapa.
His next opponent is last edition’s silver-medallist Sanjar Tursunov of Uzbekistan who has been seeded third this year.
In the women’s competition, Sakshi (54kg) got the better of Tajikistan’s Ruhafzo Haqazarova 5-0 to set up a clash against top seed Dina Zholaman of Kazakhstan.
Jaismine edged past Oyuntsetseg Yesugen of Mongolia 4-1 and will now square off against Vladislava Kukhta of Kazakhstan. Simranjit, who recently recovered from COVID-19, defeated Raykhona Kodirova of Uzbekistan 4-1. Her next opponent is also a Kazakh in Rimma Volossenko.
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