Defending champion Amit Panghal (52kg), veteran Vikas Krishan (69kg) and debutant Varinder Singh (60kg) were among the Indian boxers who advanced to the semi-finals on Wednesday as the country assured itself of an unparalleled medal haul of 15 in the Asian Boxing Championships in Dubai.

Tokyo-bound Panghal secured a second successive medal after overcoming a stiff challenge from Mongolia’s Kharkhuu Enkhmandakh in the last-eight stage, while Varinder defeated Filipino Jere Samuel Dela Cruz 5-0.

Vikas, who will also play the Olympics, then pulled off a hard-fought 4-1 triumph over Iran’s Moslem Maghsoudi Mal Amir as India surpassed its previous best medal haul of 13 that was achieved in the 2019 edition.

However, Tokyo-bound Ashish Kumar went down fighting against the World Championships and Asian Games medallist Abilkhan Amankul of Kazakhstan 2-3 in their last-eight clash.

Panghal, a World Championship silver medallist, won 3-2 in a high-octane contest in which he overcame a sluggish start and used his combination punches to telling effect in the last two rounds.

After being somewhat bested in the opening three minutes, the top-seeded Army man’s trademark pace came to fore in the second round as he cleverly dodged his rival’s aggressive attempts at connecting. The Mongolian produced some fine body punches to unsettle Panghal but took quite a few hits on the counter-attack.

Panghal will square off against Kazakhstan’s Saken Bibossinov. He had beaten Bibossinov in the 2019 world championship semi-final.

Vikas played his usual defensive game but was pushed quite hard by Amir, who gave the Indian a cut above his left eye.

Vikas has set up a mouth-watering semifinal clash with top seed and defending champion Bobo-Usmon Baturov of Uzbekistan. Baturov is also the reigning Asian Games champion and a bronze-medallist from the world championships.

National champion Varinder scored on counter-attacks against the swift-moving Dela Cruz to secure a medal on debut at the event.

On Tuesday night, Shiva Thapa, Sanjeet (91kg) and women boxers Sakshi Chaudhary (54kg), Jasmine (57kg) and Simranjit Kaur (60kg) had beated their respective opponents to reach the semi-finals.

Having secured medal in each category, 10 Indian women boxers including Six-time world champion MC Mary Kom (51kg), Simranjit (60kg), Sakshi (54kg), Jaismine (57kg), Lalbuatsaihi (64kg), Lovlina Borgohain (69kg), Pooja Rani (75kg), Monika (48kg), Saweety (81kg) and Anupama (+81kg) will play their respective semi-finals on Thursday.

Today’s line-up (approximate timings, live stream on AIBA YouTube)

Monika (48 kg)- 7:45 PM IST
Mary Kom (51kg)- 8 PM
Sakshi (54kg)- 8:30 PM
Jaismine (57kg)- 9PM
Simranjit (60kg)- 9:45 PM
Lalbuatsaihi (64kg)- 10:15
Lovlina (69kg)- 10:30 PM
Pooja Rani (75 kg)- 11 PM
Saweety (81kg)- 11:15 PM
Anupama (+81kg)- 11:30 PM  

With PTI Inputs