With the women’s 81kg draw having only 5 contestants, former two-time Asian Championships medallist Pooja Rani (81kg) already finds herself in the semi-finals and has confirmed India’s first medal from Thailand.
Asian Games gold medallist Amit Panghal is likely to face the reigning Olympic champion Hasanboy Dusmatov of Uzbekistan in the quarter-finals as the draw was released in Bangkok on Thursday.
Former world junior champion Nikhat Zareen (51kg) begins her campaign against Srey Pov Nao of Cambodia but her path gets trickier with two-time world champion Nazym Kyzaibay waiting in the quarter-finals. Lovlina Borgohain (64kg) could have a possible face-off with China’s world champion Chen Nien-Chin in the quarters.
Panghal, who started the season with a gold medal at the Strandja Boxing Tournament, beat the mighty Uzbek on his way to the Asiad gold last year and will be making his competitive continental debut in 52kg on April 21 after receiving a first-round bye.
The experienced Shiva Thapa (60kg), who will be going for a record-breaking fourth successive medal from this prestigious tournament meets Korea’s Kim Won-ho 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 of the men’s team.
Four male boxers from the Indian contingent have been handed first-round byes – Kavinder Singh Bisht, Ashish Kumar (75kg) 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.
Makran Cup gold medallist Deepak (49kg), Rohit Tokas (64kg), Ashish (69kg) and Asian Games medallist Satish Kumar (+91kg) will begin India’s medal hunt on the first day of competition.
World Championships silver medallist Sonia (54kg) will be in action on Friday as she takes on Vietnam’s Do Nha Uyan.
“It is a mixed draw and I believe that our boxers are ready for the challenge. Sonia has a World Championship silver medal and is well prepared for her bout tomorrow,” said Mohammed Ali Qamar, women’s head coach.
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. The experienced Seema Poonia (+81kg) has China’s Yang Xiaoli in her opening round.
After seven successful editions, the women’s competition will be held alongside 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.