Amit Panghal, Shiva Thapa settle for silver, Sanjeet shines with gold at Asian Boxing Championships

India finished the Asian boxing meet with an unprecedented 15 medals -- comprising two golds, five silvers and eight bronze.

By Aarish Ansari

Indian heavyweight boxer Sanjeet bagged a gold medal while Tokyo-bound Amit Panghal and Olympian Shiva Thapa settled for silver at the Asian Boxing Championships 2021 on Monday.

Sanjeet upset five-time Asian championships medallist and Rio Olympic silver medallist Vassiliy Levit of Kazakhstan in the 91kg final.

The young Indian fought bravely against the much more experienced Kazakh, with some clean and precise hitting to triumph over the top-seeded Levit by a 4:1 split verdict.

Sanjeet in action during his win over Rio Olympic silver medallist Vassiliy Levit of Kazakhstan at ASBC Asian Championships in Dubai.

Earlier in the day, Amit Panghal, the defending flyweight Asian champion, could not go past the current world and Olympic champion Zoirov Shakhobidin of Uzbekistan in a fiercely contested 52kg final.

Although Amit Panghal adopted an offensive strategy, the bout ebbed and flowed with Shakhobidin answering the Indian sharply.

The Indian went in aggressively with timely right-left combinations on a number of occasions but the Uzbek retaliated with his own flurry, forcing the Indian to retreat. The two boxers traded blows throughout the fight but in the end, judges ruled in the favour of Shakhobidin by a 3:2 split verdict.

This is Amit Panghal’s third straight loss to Zoirov Shakhobidin, with defeats in the 2019 World Championships and the Governor’s Cup earlier this year.

Later, in what was another tight contest, two-time Olympian Shiva Thapa also went down by a 3:2 split verdict to Asian Games silver medallist Baatarsukh Chinzorig from Mongolia in the 64kg division.

Both boxers opted for an orthodox stance and a composed approach in the summit clash, with the first round going in the favour of the Chinzorig. However, Thapa found his ground in the second, combining excellent movement with swift footwork to land punches to the face and left hooks to the Mongolian’s body.

In the decisive round, Chinzorig jabbed away as Thapa let his guard down to up the offence. At the final bell, the Mongolian came out victorious and Thapa settled for silver.

Thapa’s silver medal was his fifth straight Asian championships medal, making him the joint-most successful male boxer in the history of the tournament.

After a week-long campaign, the 19-member Indian contingent was able to bring home a record haul of 15 medals - two golds, five silvers and eight bronze - from the 2021 Asian Boxing Championships.

Their previous best of 13 medals, including two golds, four silvers and seven bronze, came at the 2019 edition in Bangkok.

Out of the seven Tokyo-bound Indian boxers in the tournament, Pooja Rani (75kg) was the only gold medallist while Mary Kom (51kg) and Amit Panghal (52kg) returned with a silver each. Simranjit Kaur (60kg), Lovlina Borgohain (69kg) and Vikas Krishan (69kg) each won a bronze.

Ashish Kumar (75kg), however, could not get a place on the podium at the continental event, which is effectively the final boxing tournament for Indian boxers before heading to the Tokyo Olympics in July.