World Boxing Championships: India’s male boxers have a lot to prove

Indian male boxers will be put to the test at the World Championships starting in Tashkent on Monday. The men’s team hasn’t really done well in recent major tournaments and returns in 2021 with just one medal from the last World Championships.

A 13-member Indian team will take part in the premier tournament to be held in Tashkent from Monday. (Getty Images)

The team, selected by High Performance Director Bernard Dunn on assessment during the three-week national camp, has seasoned campaigners who are expected to do well in the year of the Guangzhou Asian Games and Paris Olympic qualification. The three lower Olympic weight categories are Deepak Bhoria (51kg), Mohammed Hasamuddin (57kg) and Shiv Thapa (63.5kg).

While Bhoria’s selection over Commonwealth Games gold medalist Amit Panghal is surprising, there is no doubting his quality. The 25-year-old has pulled off big upsets in the past but his career has been hampered by injuries. He returned to the camp in January after a long rehabilitation period for a shoulder injury and was soon giving Panghal a tough fight.

His form is evident from the scores in the evaluation process where he outclassed Panghal by 731 to 682 points. At the Commonwealth Games trials, the battle between Bhoria and Panghal was close but the latter went on to win the gold in Birmingham.

Dunn’s new evaluation process has surprised boxers as past achievements have not been taken into account.

Hussamuddin has never looked so good at featherweight, but now the time has come for him to make his mark on the big stage. Medals at the Commonwealth Games and Asian Championships last year should further whet his appetite. Hussamuddin has added an aggressive flair to go with his technical boxing abilities.

The quest for an Olympic medal keeps Shiva Thapa going. That inner fire has rekindled and the 29-year-old knows Paris could be one last chance to make his dream come true. The journey towards that will begin in Tashkent as the medal will seal his berth for the Asian Games, which is a qualifier for Paris.

At home, Thapa has settled his rivalry with Tokyo Olympian Manish Kaushik, the 2019 World Championships bronze medallist. He comfortably beat him in the national championships and outclassed him in the evaluation process – 728 points to 643 points. At the Asian level, Thapa has proved himself time and again. He is a six-time Asian Championships medalist. But her only World Championships medal was a bronze in 2015.

Tokyo Olympian and 2019 Asian Championships silver medalist Ashish Chowdhary has been dropped to 80kg, while promising Nishant Dev (71kg) and Narendra Berwal (92+kg) will look to impress in the Olympic weight categories.

It will also be exciting to see how Govind Sahni fares in the 48kg. She has made impressive progress by winning a silver at the Strandja Memorial and a bronze at the Asian Championships.

The world championship takes place with a deep ditch fighting world body. Several countries withdrew from the IBA Women’s World Championships in New Delhi. UK, US, Ireland, Czech Republic, Canada and Sweden will not participate in Tashkent. A rival international body – World Boxing – has come into existence with the sport’s Olympic future in question.

India Squad

Govind Sahni (48kg), Deepak Bhoria (51kg), Sachin Siwach (54kg), Mohd Hasamuddin (57kg), Varinder Singh (60kg), Shiv Thapa (63.5kg), Akash Sangwan (67kg), Nishant Dev (71kg), Sumit Kundu (75kg), Ashish Chowdhary (80kg), Harsh Chowdhary (86kg), Naveen Kumar (92kg) and Narendra Berwal (92+kg).

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