Asian bronze medal-winning pugilist Shiva Thapa fought his heart out but still fell short in a draining contest, settling for a bronze medal at the World Boxing Championships in Doha on Sunday, but he remained in contention for a Rio 2016 Olympics berth.
Thapa (56kg) lost 1-2 to Uzbekistan’s Asian silver-medallist Murodjon Akhmadaliev in a closely-contested bout.
However, he is still in the running for an Olympic spot as the losing semifinalists will fight a playoff on October 15 to decide the last of the three slots in this category. “It’s a part of the game, I gave it my all but it was not my day. I still have a good chance of making the Olympics so I am looking forward to that,” a disappointed Thapa told PTI.
The 20-year-old Assam lad will face Dzmitry Asanau in the all-important contest after the Belarussian went down to third-seeded Irish Michael Conlan in his semifinal bout.
The two rivals, well aware of each other’s style due to their past face-off, were guarded to begin with. In the opening round, it was Thapa who mounted attacks with his trademark left hook connecting well. But the judges ruled in the Uzbek’s favour, giving him the early edge.
In the second round, Akhmadaliev was a tad more attacking than the Indian and the strategy worked well for him as some of his jabs struck cleanly to get him the judges’ unanimous nod once again.
Thapa went all out in the final three minutes and perhaps eyeing a knockout, landed some telling left hooks. The aggression won him the round but the overall battle went in Akhmadaliev’s favour. “It was anybody’s bout till the last second and it’s disappointing that we could not get it. But Shiva was fantastic and I am proud of his performance,” national coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu said.
This was Thapa’s second successive loss to Akhmadaliev after the semifinal defeat he faced in the Asian Championships in Bangkok.
The youngster is only the third Indian after Vijender Singh (2009) and Vikas Krishan (2011) to fetch a World Championships medal.