Services established their dominance at the Men’s Boxing National Championships after their boxers made it to finals of eight out of the ten weight categories. The two, who could not make the finals, ran into the finest boxers in the tournament.
Rohit Tokas of Railways and Sumit Sangwan of Haryana stopped the Services juggernaut as the latter defeated Gaurav Chauhan in a thrilling encounter on Wednesday in Himachal Pradesh’s Baddi town.
Tokas had defeated Vanhlimpuia on Monday and is now on track to win his second straight gold medal at the senior nationals. Last year, competing in the 63 kg, Tokas had won his first-ever national title.
Now Tokas is looking to repeat that feat but in a new weight category – 75 kg. He defeated Rohit of All India Police by a unanimous 5-0 decision in the semi-final at the Baddi University. In the quarter-finals, he had defeated Ashish Kumar, India’s representative at the recently concluded World Championships.
“I am here to win the gold medal,” Tokas said. “It’s a new weight category and the best part is I am adjusting well to it.”
Using his speed inside the ring, Tokas has dominated his opponents so far. The ability to move inside and quickly move out after punches make it difficult for boxers to attack Tokas in an effective manner. But while speed in his strong point, Tokas is still getting used to the strength in the new category.
“By the time they realise that they have been hit, I am already out of their range,” he said. “But I am gaining strength because the boxers who have been boxing in this category for long are stronger.”
He will now face Ankit Khatana of Haryana in the final. Khatana blanked Pankaj Chauhan of Chandigarh in the semi-final.
It is a similar situation for Sangwan who is playing his first national competition at 91 kg. After years at 81 kg, he made the shift after a couple of surgeries. Facing Chauhan in the semi-final, Sangwan was on the ropes early in the bout after getting two standing counts. But using all his experience, he took round two and three to win by a 5-0 unanimous decision.
“I have boxed him before in trials and I know he comes hard in the first round,” he said. “I got the counts in the first round and he got excited. I knew I can handle him in the next two rounds and I won.”
Sangwan is making a comeback to the national championships after a gap of four years. He last boxed in the tournament in 2015 and won the gold medal and the best boxer award.
Tokas and Sangwan are not the only two boxers who are moving up in the weight categories. The competition saw former youth world champion Sachin Siwach move up to 57 kg from 52 kg, a category now made his own by World Championships silver medallist Amit Panghal.
Two-time Olympian Shiva Thapa is boxing at his first national championships in the new weight category of 63 kg after previously jumping from 57 kg to 60 kg.
Both Siwach and Thapa also reached the final of their respective categories with convincing wins.
Siwach dominated Sagar Chand of Punjab while Thapa thrashed Abhishek Yadav of Uttar Pradesh.
“I am very tall for 52 kg and I was not getting the desired results as well,” Siwach said. “So it was better to jump up and test myself. I am very confident in the category and now looking forward to the finals.”
The finals on Thursday will see Siwach clash with India international Mohammad Hassamuddin of Services.
Thapa will also face a Services boxer Akash in the final. Akash won a split 3-2 split decision against Ankush Dahiya of Railways. The verdict left the Railways camp in surprise and they officially protested.
That, however, did not have any difference on the final result of the bout.
In other weight categories, a few debutants made it to the finals of their respective categories. In the 49 kg category, Vinod Tanwar of Services overcame Sonu Dhull of Railways in an evenly contested semi-final bout to set up a final against Ajay Pendor of Maharashtra who completed a technical knockout victory over Krushanvir Singh of Daman and Diu.
Railways and Services dominated the semi-finals at other weight categories. At 52 kg, Ashish Insha of Railways will square-off against LP Polipalli of Services. In 60 kg, a non-Olympic weight category, Varinder Singh of Railways will box Durga Rao of Services in the final.
Jayesh Desai of Gujarat who picked up boxing only in 2014 reached his first-ever final and will take on Naveen Boora of Services at the 69 kg weight category.
The finals will see eight boxers from Services and five boxers from Railways fight for the gold medals. Services, who won eight gold medals and bagged the top position last year, will be looking to defend the title.