New Delhi :
Indian boxer Amit Panghal had to settle for silver after losing to Olympic champion Shakhobidin Zoirov of Uzbekistan in an intense 52kg category final on Saturday. Panghal lost 0-5 but the scoreline was hardly a reflection of the fight he put on against the more fancied Zoirov.
The second-seeded Panghal became the first Indian male boxer to finish second in the world event and the country achieved its best ever medal haul of two. Manish Kaushik (63kg) had signed off with a bronze earlier, after losing in the semifinals.
Once again up against a taller and more muscular opponent, Panghal gave it his all but fell short when it came to connecting accurately. The Asian Games and Asian Championships gold-medallist nonetheless achieved a historic feat.
The silver marks a new high for the boxer from Rohtak, who has been simply unstoppable since breaking into the national scene with a bronze in the 2017 Asian Championships.
Zoirov, despite being unseeded, was always going to be a tough challenge as he also has to his credit silver medals in the Asian Games and the Asian Championships.
"I am obviously very happy but there is unfinished business as of now. I have worked really hard and I would like to ensure that I get the best prize," Panghal had said after the semi-final.
Panghal's performance that earned him a spot in the semi-finals sealed his places in next year's Olympic qualifiers with the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) stating earlier that those pugilists who win medals at the Worlds will be automatic picks for the qualifiers.
Before this year, India had never won more than one bronze medal at a single edition of the world championship. In the last edition, only Gaurav Bidhuri was able to bring home a bantamweight bronze medal.
The past medal-winners at the big event are Vijender Singh (2009), Vikas Krishan (2011), Shiva Thapa (2015) and Gaurav Bidhuri (2017). This time, India was among nine countries, out of a total of 78, which had their boxers in the finals. Uzbekistan topped the finalists count with four boxers.
With Agency Inputs