Veteran Mary Kom and 2019 World championship silver medallist Amit Panghal sealed their spots at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games with slightly contrasting wins in Amman, Jordan, on Monday.
Later in the day, 2018 World Championships bronze medallist Simranjit Kaur earned India’s eighth quota for the Olympic Games with an upset win over the second seed in the 60kg category.
Kaur defeated Namuun Monkhor from Mongolia by winning the last-eight bout with an unanimous 5-0 decision. The Indian’s aggressive approach in the first rounds did the damage and Monkhor’s late surge was not enough to make a dent in the final scoreboard.
In her 51kg quarter-final, after a tight first round, the six-time World Champion Mary Kom overcame Philippines’ Irish Magno by an unanimous 5-0 decision (with 30-27 on three cards and 29-28 on the other two) in the women’s 51kg quarter-final.
The London 2012 bronze medallist booked her ticket for a second Olympic Games appearance and stormed into the semis with a classic display of counter boxing. Her experience came to the fore in the second and third rounds. She will now take on reigning Asian Games gold medallist Yuan Chang of China in her quest for a spot in the final of this event.
Earlier, Panghal carved out a 4:1 split decision verdict against Philippines Carlo Paalam in the men’s 52kg quarter-finals of the Asia/Oceania Olympic Boxing qualifiers to make it to his first Olympic Games.
With five quota spots earned on Sunday, India’s tally is now up to eight with a couple more slots possible from box-offs. Satish Kumar (+91kg), Pooja Rani (75kg), Vikas Krishan (69kg), Lovlina Borgohain (69kg) and Ashish Kumar (75kg) have advanced to the semi-finals.
Later on Monday, Manish Kaushik (63kg) went down fighting against third seed Chinzorig Baatarsukh of Mongolia but is still in contention for a spot in the Olympics. Baatarsukh is a 2018 Asian Games silver-medallist besides being a two-time podium finisher at the Asian Championships but he had lost to the Indian at the World Championships last year. The Mongolian got his revenge with an aggressive display in an enthralling quarter-final bout that the Indian started on the front foot. Chinzorig’s brilliant third round proved decisive in the end.
Kaushik also remains in contention for an Olympic berth if he can win the box-off between losing quarterfinalists as the top six boxers will claim Tokyo tickets in the 63kg category.
Earlier Panghal, the top-seeded Indian boxer, didn’t start strongly in the quarter-finals and Paalam made the most of the opportunity to take the opening round. It looked like Panghal was under pressure even in the second as the Philippines boxer did well to use the left-right combination to keep his opponent at bay.
But the experienced Panghal’s counter punching tactics bore fruit as he landed decisive punches in the final minute of the second round. The Indian continued with a similar strategy even in the third and final round to ultimately register his third straight victory over Paalam and make it to Tokyo.
“I dedicate my Olympic quota to my uncle Raj Narayan, it’s his birthday and he is someone who gives me a lot of courage,” said Panghal after his bout.
“I followed the instructions given by my coaches. I ensured that he didn’t get on top of me. I think I was pretty consistent in all three rounds,” Panghal said.
Next up for Panghal is China’s Jianguan Hu, who stunned world bronze-medallist and fourth seed Kazakh Saken Bibossinov 5-0.
“I have beaten him in the Asian Championships and I know how to get the better of him,” Panghal said of his next opponent.
Kaushik, who was up against an Asian Games silver-medallist, started well but lost steam in the face of relentless body shots by Baatarsukh, a two-time podium finisher at the Asian Championships.
Baatarsukh had lost to Kaushik in the second round of the world championships last year and he extracted revenge with an aggressive takedown of the Indian, especially in the final three minutes.
Kaushik will face Harrison Garside of Australia in the box-off bout on 11 March.
Former junior world champion Sakshi Chaudhary (57kg) failed to secure an Olympic berth after going down to Korea’s Im Aeji in the women’s 57 kg quarter-finals.
The 19-year-old Chaudhary lost 0-5 to Im, who is also a former world youth champion. Only the semifinalists are entitled to an Olympic berth in the women’s 57kg category.
Im will face Japan’s 19-year-old Irie Sena, who upstaged world champion and top seed Nesthy Petecio of Philippines in a split decision. Petecio was docked a point for holding in the second round which ultimately played a decisive role in her 2-3 loss.
With eight spots assured for Tokyo 2020, India have matched their tally from London 2012.