Asian Boxing Championship: Pooja assured of a medal

Bangkok: Two-time continental medallist Pooja Rani confirmed India’s first medal in the women’s 81 kg category after making it to the semi-finals in a field of five as the Asian Elite Boxing Championship’s draw was released on Thursday.

Asian Games gold medallist Amit Panghal, set to make his debut in the 52 kg category in all likelihood will face the reigning Olympic champion Hasanboy Dusmatov of Uzbekistan in the quarter-finals.

Former world junior champion Nikhat Zareen (51kg) will start her campaign against Srey Pov Nao of Cambodia but she will run into two-time world champion Nazym Kyzaibay in the quarter-finals.

Lovlina Borgohain (64kg) could have a possible face-off with China’s world champion Chen Nien-Chin in the quarters. Amit, who started the season with a gold medal at the Strandja Boxing Tournament beat the mighty Uzbek on his way to the Asiad gold in Jakarta last year and will fight his first bout on April 21 after a first-round bye.

Shiva Thapa (60kg), who will be going for a record-breaking fourth successive medal from this prestigious tournament meets Korea’s Kim Wonho in the first round. “Four of our boys will be in action tomorrow. We are quite confident about our prospects. The tricky journey will begin from quarters,” said CA Kuttappa, head coach men’s team.

Four male boxers from the Indian contingent have been presented with first-round byes — Kavinder Singh Bisht, Ashish Kumar (75 kg), Brijesh Yadav and Naman Tanwar. Two female boxers Simranjit Kaur and Pooja Rani have first-round byes and both Seema Poonia and debutant Nupur are one shot away from a medal as they open their campaign with a quarterfinal face-off.

Four-time Asian Championships gold medallist Sarita Devi will be eyeing her sixth medal from this elite event when she begins her campaign against Korea’s Gwon Sujin.

Young Manisha Moun (54kg) has a stiff challenge in Vietnam’s Do Nha Uyen. Debutants Nitu (45kg) and Nupur (75kg) will be taking on Pin Meng-Chieh and Pak Un Sim respectively. Experienced Seema Poonia (+81kg) has China’s Yang Xiaoli in her opening round.

After seven successful editions, the women’s competition will be held simultaneously as the men at the Asian Championships for the very first time. In the last edition, the Indian women grabbed a total of seven medals that included one gold, one silver and five bronze.