On comeback path, Amit Panghal shows promise at Strandja meet - Hindustan Times
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On comeback path, Amit Panghal shows promise at Strandja meet

ByAvishek Roy, New Delhi
Feb 10, 2024 10:18 PM IST

CWG gold medallist sets up final against with Kazakh world champion Sanzhar Tashkenbay

The going has been tough for Amit Panghal. The Tokyo Olympian lost his place in the team to Deepak Bhoria and is now looking for a spark of inspiration that can revive his career.

Amit Panghal has dominated his opponents in the Strandja Memorial Boxing Championships so far(BFI)
Amit Panghal has dominated his opponents in the Strandja Memorial Boxing Championships so far(BFI)

That opportunity has come at the ongoing Strandja Memorial Boxing Championships in Bulgaria where India has fielded its second string in the men's competition. The first-choice boxers, including Bhoria who has twice upstaged Panghal in the selection process, will be competing for Paris Olympics quota places at the qualifiers in Busto Arsizio, Italy later this month.

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Panghal has dominated his opponents in the tournament so far. On Saturday, he stormed into the 51kg final with a 5-0 victory against Samet Gumus of Turkey in 51kg. At no point in the bout was Panghal in any trouble. With speed and accuracy, he was on target on most occasions. Gumus showed urgency in the second round but Panghal used his jab and left hook to good effect that put his opponent on the backfoot. Panghal took a step back at the start of the third round, preserving his energy for an offensive in the final minute that paid off.

Panghal had pulled off a similar one-sided win against Aldarkhishig Battulga of Mongolia in the quarter-finals. His last big international medal was at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham where he won gold. The run at a prestigious event like Strandja Memorial will give him loads of confidence and he will be keen to cap it with victory on Sunday. For that, Panghal will have to beat reigning world champion Sanzhar Tashkenbay of Kazakhstan.

Nikhat in final

For world champion Nikhat Zareen, the year's first tournament starts her preparation for the Paris Olympics. Nikhat punched her ticket to Paris at the Hangzhou Asian Games and will now be looking to peak for the Olympics.

Competing against Bulgarian home favourite Zlatislava Chukanova in 50kg, Nikhat pulled off a 5-0 win in the semi-finals. Though Chukanova gave her a good fight in the first round, Nikhat came back to take control in the next two rounds. Showing good reflexes, Nikhat countered well to tackle her aggressive opponent.

Arundhati Choudhary (66kg) entered the final with a unanimous 5-0 win over Jessica Triebeľová of Slovakia. She faces China's World and Asian champion Liu Yang in the final.

Also progressing to the final was Barun Singh Shagolshem (48kg), who beat Khenoussi Kamel of Algeria 5-0. In the 57kg Olympic category, Sachin beat Ukraine's Abduraimov Aider, making a fine comeback after losing the first round for a 4-1 victory. Rajat (67kg) entered the final defeating Guruli Lasha of Georgia.

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