Vikas packs a different punch
When Vikas Krishan moved to professional boxing a year back, he spoke to his promoters and included a clause in his contract that allowed him to come back to the amateur ranks for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
One of India’s top boxers, Krishan knows he could be fighting in his last Olympics and didn’t want to take a chance. On Monday, Krishan booked his spot for the first Olympic qualifiers in Wuhan, China from February 3-14 after winning the national selection trials in Ballari, Karnataka.
The 27-year-old defeated Duryodhan Singh Negi in a unanimous decision (9-0) in the final of the trials, having got the better of Ashish Kulheria 9-0 in the first bout. Krishan said he did not find the trials tough. “Yes, there were some good boxers but I didn’t feel the competition was tough in 69kg. I wasn’t really challenged,” he told HT.
“In professional boxing I have sparred and played against tough boxers, so here I don’t find the competition tough enough. That could be my plus point,” said the seasoned boxer, who has competed in the last two Olympics, in London and Rio.
He is still trying to adapt to the amateur style—where points rather than the power of the punch matters—and was confident by the qualifiers he will be ready.
“I am trying to make the changes. I have adapted well but there are still certain things I need to work on. There is one more month for the Olympic qualifier. By then I think I will be able to completely adapt to amateur boxing.”
The Haryana boxer moved a division down, from middleweight (75kg) to welter (69kg). “My weight stays around 70kg and in professional boxing I fight in this category, so my friend Neeraj Goyat and others told me to stick to 69kg in amateur boxing as it will help me.”
Krishan said he has to work on his speed and defence. In professional boxing, which are over 10-12 rounds, one gets more time to gauge the rival, but amateur contests being of three rounds he needs to think real fast. The training regimen is entirely different. In pro, the capacity to train is built, but pace slows down. It is not possible to train at the same pace for long.
“Moves such as step-back or head slip while evading a punch you can’t do for long against professional boxers because it consumes energy. Now, I have to bring it back in my boxing style. I have to be fast from the first round. If you can win the first round, half the battle is won.”
Krishan, who was signed up by US promoters Top Rank, fought two professional bouts before returning to the national camp in August. On his comeback, he won gold in the recent South Asian Games in Nepal. What will benefit Krishan is the power he packs in his punches. “I always had power even if you see 75kg. That advantage will be there. But 69kg is a fast and tough weight, so I have to maintain my power and work on my speed.”
The surprise of the men’s selection trials was Commonwealth Games gold medallist Gaurav Solanki, who came through the toughest category (57kg) to seal his place in the qualifiers.
Solanki defeated national champion Mohammed Hussamuddin 7-2 in the final of the trials. Before that he had defeated favourite Kavinder Bisht, a world championships quarter-finalist this year, 6-3 in the first bout on Saturday. Solanki had moved up a division from 52kg, which is being dominated by Amit Panghal.
In another close contest, Naman Tanwar edged past Naveen Kumar 6-3 to secure his place in 91kg.
Squad for Olympic qualifiers: Amit Panghal (52kg), Gaurav Solanki (57kg), Manish Kaushik (63 kg), Vikas Krishan (69kg), Ashish Kumar (75kg), Sachin Kumar (81kg), Naman Tanwar (91kg), Satish Kumar (+91kg).