World Championships silver medallist Amit Panghal (52kg) recorded a gritty 3-2 win over Mongolia’s Enkhmanadakh Kharkhuu to enter the quarter-finals of Asian/Oceanian Olympic qualifiers in Amman, Jordan. Panghal is now just one win away from realizing his Tokyo Olympic dream.
Commonwealth Games champion Gaurav Solanki (57kg), meanwhile, bowed out 1-4 to top seed and world champion Mirazizbek Mirzakhalilov of Uzbekistan in the second round after a spirited display.
Having lost to the Mongolian at the World Military Games in their previous meeting, the Asian Games champion Panghal knew he had a tough task at hand in his opening bout at this event.
Panghal started with a flurry of right jabs and left crosses to have an upper hand over his opponent but Kharkhuu still had enough in his tank to trouble the Indian.
The second round was highly competitive with both boxers not shying away from landing their punches on each other.
Kharkhuu looked not in the mood to relent and kept battling hard with Panghal looking a bit subdued towards the end of the final round. Panghal ability to land clear punches on his opponent in the first couple of rounds eventually tilted the balance in his favour as three of the five judges voted in his favour.
“I played according to the strategy the coaches had chalked out. I tried to score well in the first round, which was the main aim. Glad to have got the win. I have played and beaten my next opponent twice. I would look to get a win again and get an Olympic quota for my country,” said Panghal after the victory.
The Asian Championships gold medallist will next take on Southeast Asian Games champion Carlo Paalam of Philippines. Four Indian women and six Indian men pugilists are through to the last-eight and need just one win each to book their Tokyo tickets. London Olympic bronze medallist Mary Kom will hope to make her second trip to the Olympics when she begins her quest later today against New Zealand’s Tasmyn Benny in 51kg.