Beijing Olympic Games quarterfinalist Jitender Kumar finally tasted success in his new weight category, bantamweight (54kg), by defeating Enkhjargal Iderkhuu of Mongolia 9-4 in a quarterfinal bout of the Asian Boxing Championship in Zhuhai, China.
He is now assured of at least a bronze.
Apart from Jitender, two other Indians, Jai Bhagwan (60kg) and Dinesh Kumar (81kg), booked berths in the medal round on Wednesday. Nanao Singh (48kg) and Paramjit Singh Samohata (91+) had made the cut earlier.
After winning bronze in the AIBA World Cup at Russia in December, Jitender had graduated to the 54kg category (from 51kg) because he was struggling to control his weight. Getting used to the new category was not easy, as he lost his first bout in the A.K. Mishra International in Chandigarh and then lost in the quarterfinals of an invitational tournament in Kazakhstan last month.
"It's a good break for Jitender and today's victory will help him cement his place in the new category. Though he took some time to grab a medal in bantamweight, he did it in style by defeating a tough opponent," chief national coach, G.S. Sandhu, told HT from Zhuhai.
Jitender will meet Ma Yunhao of China in the semifinals on Friday.
In other bouts of the day, Jai Bhagwan defeated Hu Quianxun of China 12-2 and Dinesh knocked out Hsiao Huang-Yi of the Chinese Taipei in the first round.
"For the first time in the tournament, I feel relaxed. When I saw the draw, I was tense as my opening bout was against a Thai followed by a boxer from China. But I took it as a challenge and overcame them. In today's bout, I had an advantage because of my long reach and that helped me overpower Hu," said Jai Bhagwan
Results: Bantamweight (54kg): Jitender Kumar bt Enkhjargal Iderkhuu 9-4; Lightweight (60kg): Jai Bhagwan bt Hu Quianxun 12-2; Lightheavy (81kg): Dinesh Kumar bt Hsiao Huang-Yi (by knockout)