Two years after they wrestled in one of the best matches in World Championships history, Bajrang Punia and Takuto Otoguro will be up against each other in yet another final.
At the Asian Championships in New Delhi on Saturday, Punia of India and Japan’s Otoguro reached the final of the 65 kg weight category and set up an exciting battle for the gold medal.
In Budapest two years ago, Otoguro defeated Punia 15-9 in the final and claimed the gold medal. The Indian has the opportunity to avenge the loss in New Delhi on Saturday.
Both wrestlers have looked in top form with Punia defeating Dzhamshed Sharifov of Tajikistan 11-0 before going past former junior Asian champion Abbos Rakhmonov 12-2. In the semi-final, Punia wrestled junior world champion Amirhossein Maghsoudi of Iran and managed to totally tire him out to win 11-0.
In his typically dominating style, Punia won his bouts via technical superiority and managed to reach the final.
Three other Indians wrestlers joined Punia in the final with Ravi Dahiya reaching the 57 kg summit clash, coming through a tough draw. Satyawart Kadian and Gourav Baliyan were the other two finallists in the 97 kg and 79 kg respectively.
Naveen, in the 70 kg weight category, will wrestle for the bronze medal after he lost the semi-final against Amirhossein Hosseini of Iran 2-2. Hosseni will meet Uzbekistan’s Ilyas Bekabulatov in the final.
Dahiya once again looked in control of his bouts as he defeated former world champion Yuki Takahashi of Japan 14-5. In the next bout, he got the better of Tugs Batjargal of Mongolia via a pin. Fellow World Championships bronze medallist Nurislam Sanayev of Kazakhstan was the next victim as he lost 2-7 to Dahiya.
Dahiya will wrestle for his first Asian title while Punia will look to defend his title from Xian, China. Baliyan and Kadian are also gunning for their first Asian titles.