New Delhi, April 25
Haryana boxer Amit Panghal had to be content with a bronze medal in the 52kg category at the Governor’s Cup in St Petersburg after going down to world champion Shakhobidin Zoirov of Uzbekistan in the semifinals.
Panghal, winner of a silver medal at the 2019 World Championships, lost 0-5 to Zoirov, who is also the reigning Olympics champion. This was the Indian’s second loss to Zoirov after the 2019 World Championships, in which Panghal had lost in the gold medal bout, with the same 5-0 scoreline. Clearly, Panghal has work to do before he can hope to beat the quick and strong Uzbek.
Both the boxers could again clash at the Tokyo Olympics Games, to be held in July-August. Incidentally, Zoirov had been beaten by India’s Asian silver-winning boxer Deepak Kumar in the Strandja Memorial Tournament in Bulgaria in February this year.
Panghal was the lone Indian to reach the medal rounds at the Governor’s Cup after seasoned competitors like Olympics-bound Ashish Kumar (75kg) and Sumit Sangwan (81kg) bowed out early. The Haryana lad is being seen as a strong contender for a medal at Tokyo, even though it would be his first Olympics appearance.
The 23-year-old Armyman has been a consistent performer for the past three years, claiming gold medals at the Asian Games and the Asian Championships. In fact, he’s India’s first finalist at the World Championship. — TNS, agencies