IMAGE: Sachin out-punched Uzbekistan’s Shakhzod Muzafarov through a 5-0 verdict to win the gold medal in the men’s 57kg at the 75th Strandja Memorial tournament. Photograph: Boxing Federation of India
World Championship medallist Amit Panghal and Sachin Siwach struck gold, while Nikhat Zareen and three other Indian boxers signed off with silver medals at the 75th Strandja Memorial tournament in Sofia, Bulgaria, on Sunday.
The 2019 World silver medallist Panghal (51kg) pulled off a dominating 5-0 triumph over Kazakhstan’s Sanzhar Tashkenbay in the men’s flyweight final.
Sachin (57kg), a World Youth champion, changed the colour of his medal from the last edition, turning bronze into gold as he out-punched Uzbekistan’s Shakhzod Muzafarov through a 5-0 verdict.
However, two-time World champion Zareen (50kg), Arundhati Choudhary (66kg), Barun Singh Shagolshem (48kg) and Rajat (67kg) settled for silver medals after going down in their respective bouts.
In all, India signed off with a haul of eight medals — two gold, four silver, and a couple of bronze in this edition of the event.
In a commanding performance, Panghal landed powerful punches, dominating Tashkenbay with pinpoint precision and speed in his attack.
Panghal, who had clinched the bronze medal in 2017 and back-to-back titles in 2018 and 2019, was on target on most occasions with his trademark jab and left hook and didn’t let loose the grip of the bout even for a second.
IMAGE: Amit Panghal pulled off a dominating 5-0 triumph over Kazakhstan’s Sanzhar Tashkenbay in the men’s flyweight final. Photograph: Boxing Federation of India
As the bout progressed, the Commonwealth and Asian Games champion became more dominant and stayed in attacking mode even in the third round, securing his fourth consecutive unanimous decision win of the tournament.
However despite his dominant run at the tournament, the Armyman from Haryana, who has lost his spot in the Indian team to 2023 Worlds bronze medallist Deepak Bhoria, will not be competing at the Paris Olympics qualifiers later this month.
Sachin took some time to settle in. Both the boxers were equally dominant in the first round though the Indian managed to win it by a tight 3-2 margin.
The Haryana boxer grew in confidence as the bout progressed and used his height advantage while timing his punches to perfection in the second and third rounds to emerge victorious.
Zareen went down to 20-year-old Junior Asian champion Sabina Bobokulova of Uzbekistan, who beat Asian Games champion Wu Yu in the light flyweight semi-finals.
The first six minutes of the bout were intense with both boxers going at each other. However, Zareen wasn’t too tight with her defence and Bobokulova was able to land decisive punches on counter attack.
Bobokulova was very solid defensively and her quick head movements made it difficult for Zareen to connect the punches.
IMAGE: Nikhat Zareen went down to 20-year-old Junior Asian champion Sabina Bobokulova of Uzbekistan. Photograph: Boxing Federation of India
Trailing after the first two rounds, Zareen came out all guns blazing in the final three minutes. She was able to land clean and precise punches and won the third round. But Bobokulova had done enough and the judges ruled in her favour.
National champion Arundhati went down 1-4 to reigning world champion Liu Yang of China in the 66kg final.
Asian Games gold medallist Yang relied on her experience, employing calculated moves and prioritising her defence. She strategically scored points at regular intervals, ultimately winning the bout.
Barun lost 0-4 to Khodzhiev Anvarzhan of Kyrgyzstan in the final. The Indian managed to make a mark in the initial minute but his rival was more aggressive among the two.
The Indian pugilist did manage to put up a solid fight in the third round winning 3-2 but the final verdict went against him.
Rajat, who received a walkover in the semifinal, went down to Bekhbauov Dulat of Kazakhstan by a narrow 2-3 margin.
The bout was evenly poised throughout as it looked like it could go in anyone’s favour.
Both the boxers used their strength and delivered multiple blows at regular intervals. But the Kazakh boxer made calculative moves as he scored points regularly which also helped him in the last round, giving him a 3-2 victory in the match.