Amit Panghal in action.(BFI)
Amit Panghal in action.(BFI)

Aggressive Amit Panghal rattles world champ Zoirov in Asian boxing loss

  • India’s bright Tokyo Olympics medal prospect runs his Uzbekistan rival, world champion and Rio Games gold medallist, close in an exciting 52kg final.
PUBLISHED ON MAY 31, 2021 11:34 PM IST

It was as close a contest as it can get and world and Olympic champion Shakhobidin Zoirov of Uzbekistan might consider himself a bit lucky to end up on the winning side against Amit Panghal in the 52kg final of the Asian Boxing Championships in Dubai on Monday.

Panghal faced Zoirov for a third time, after defeats at the world championships final and the Governor's Cup in Russia recently. The Indian boxer has shown improvement against Zoirov in every bout since losing the world final 5-0.

On Monday, Panghal seemed determined to reverse the trend and go into Tokyo Olympics on a confident note. Though he could not break the run of defeats, Panghal caused enough damage through the three rounds to make a statement against the Uzbek.

The verdict was 3-2 in Zoirov’s favour. The Indian camp lodged a protest against the verdict, but the jury commission rejected it.

Panghal is a slow starter and Zoirov, who is relentless in his attacks, has taken advantage of it. This time, Panghal was in attack mode from the start and it was a fast and frenetic exchange in the first round. Panghal stepped in with his looping left hook but was also often caught in the firing line of Zoirov’s combination punches. There were many misses too from both.

The second round saw Panghal settle down, and not pounce to attack. He stayed away from his opponent’s punching range and looked for openings, getting his shots more on target. Zoirov too was busy but was not able to throw many punches.

At the start of the third round Zoirov came back hard, but the last two minutes belonged to Panghal, who now used a straight right and the left hook with speed and accuracy. Zoirov appeared rattled when the bell rang. Panghal punched the air and so did Zoirov, who was eventually declared the winner.

In his last fight against Zoirov in the Governor's Cup semi-final, Panghal was more effective in the last round. Today his approach was different and he would surely hope the new approach would help if they clash at the Tokyo Olympics.

Shiva Thapa lost to Baatarsukh Chinzorig of Mongolia 2-3 in the 64kg final.

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