Harpal Singh Bedi
New Delhi: Putting up a fearless and attacking display Akash Kumar stunned Rio Olympic silver medallist Yoel Finol of Venezuela 5-0 in the 54 Kg category quarter-final and confirmed a medal for India at the AIBA Boxing world championships in Belgrade, Serbia on Tuesday.
Earlier veteran Shiva Thapa (63.5kg) drew on his vast experience and demonstrated his wide range of skills to reach the quarter-finals of the tournament
Thapa, a five-time medallist at the Asian Boxing Championships and bronze medallist at the 2015 World Championships, defeated France’s Lounes Hamraoui 4-1 in a highly entertaining bout.
The Indian was at his deceptive best, combining feints with heavy punches. He moved fluidly and never allowed his opponent to find rhythm in the first two rounds.
While Hamraoui was more aggressive in the next two rounds, Thapa was equal to the task. He played on his own terms to record a convincing win.
Thapa, who will take on Turkey’s Kerem Oezmen in the quarter-finals on Tuesday, is one win away from becoming the first Indian male boxer to claim two World Championships medals.
However, four Indian pugilists crashed out after suffering defeats in the pre-quarterfinals. Rohit Mor (57kg) lost 1-4 to Kazakhstan’s Serik Temirzhanov, while Akash (67 kg) went down 0-5 to Cuba’s Kevin Brown.
Sumit (75kg) fought valiantly against Cuba’s Yoenlis Hernandez, but that wasn’t enough as he ended up losing 0-5.
Asian silver-medallist Deepak (51 kg) also bowed out of his maiden World Championships, losing his bout to Tokyo Olympic Bronze medallist Saken Bibssinov of Kazakhstan.
The Indian boxers still in the fray are I,Nishant Dev (71kg) who will face Russia’s Vadim Musaev, while Narender Berwal (+92kg) will take on Azerbaijan’s Mahammad Abdullayev.
The 2021 Asian Champion, Sanjeet (92kg), a quarter-finalist at the 2019 World Championships, will be up against Italy’s Aziz Abbes Mouhiidine.