Rohit Mor and Akash Sangwan started India’s campaign at the 2021 AIBA Men’s World Boxing Championships with commanding victories on the opening day in Belgrade, Serbia.

Both the boxers made cautious starts in their opening match of the prestigious championships. However, following a close first round, the 20-year-old Indian saw making good use of his height and hitting some timely heavy blows to score crucial points in the next round. Rohit did not let the momentum slip away and managed a comprehensive victory against the Ecuadorian pugilist, who participated at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

Later in the night, Akash extended the winning momentum for India and produced an equally dominating show against Adem Fukran of Turkey in the 67kg bout. The 21-year-old Akash showcased good attacking as well as defensive skills of boxing and hardly allowed the Turkish boxer to score any points before completing a 5-0 win in a lopsided match.

On the second day of the competition on Tuesday, four Indians will play their opening-round matches. While bronze medal winner of 2015’s edition, Shiva Thapa (63.5kg) will take on Kenya’s Victor Nyadera, Narender (+92kg) will fight against Poland’s Oskar Safaryan. Sumit (75kg) will play against Damon O’Neill of Jamaica.

On the other hand, Deepak Bhoria (51kg) will have a comparatively difficult challenge in his opening round match as he will start off against two-time Asian champion Azat Usenaliev of Kyrgyzstan on Tuesday. In-form Deepak, who claimed senior nationals title last month, had caught many eyeballs earlier this year after defeating Olympic champion Shakhobidin Zoirov of Uzbekistan at Strandja Memorial Tournament.

Two Indian pugilists – reigning Asian champion Sanjeet (92kg) and Sachin Kumar (80) have been awarded with first-round byes in their respective categories. Govind kumar Sahani (48kg), Varinder Singh (60kg), Nishant Dev (71kg), Sumit (75kg) and Lakshya Chahar (86kg) are the other boxers of the 13-member Indian contingent who will compete at the 21st edition of the tournament which will go on till November 6.

The event has been witnessing competition between 650 top boxers from more than 100 participating countries from across the world. It is also the first time in history, the championships are being played in 13 weight categories as per AIBA’s newly-introduced weight divisions.

The gold medalists of each category will receive $100,000 while silver and bronze medallists will be given $50,000 and $25,000 respectively. Alongside an enormous prize pool of $2.6 million, AIBA will also award the winners with beautifully designed medals, made of solid gold and silver respectively, and belts to commemorate their accomplishments.

In the last edition of the Men’s World Championships, held in 2019, Indian contingent had concluded its campaign with two medals including one silver by Amit Panghal and a bronze claimed by Manish Kaushik.