Tashkent: Boxers Deepak Bhoria (51kg), Mohammed Hussamudin (57kg) and Nishant Dev (71kg) scripted history as they ensured India’s best-ever haul of three medals by storming into the semi-finals of the men’s World Championships here on Wednesday.
The quarterfinal wins mean the three pugilists will take home at least a bronze medal each.
India’s previous best show came in 2019 edition when Amit Panghal clinched an unprecedented silver and Manish Kaushik grabbed a bronze medal.
Kicking off the proceeding for India, Deepak defeated Nurzhigit Diushebaev of Kyrgyzstan by a 5-0 unanimous verdict to continue his scintillating run in the flyweight category, which will feature at the Paris Olympics.
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Such was the Indian’s domination that the referee was forced to give Diushebaev two standing counts in the latter stages of the bout.
”Our plan was to play from left and play from afar. My confidence has increased since I have reached the semifinal,” Deepak said.
Fighting from a distance, Deepak looked for opportunities to land clean and accurate punches.
Trailing 0-5, Diushebaev started the second round on an aggressive note but Deepak put up a solid defence and counter attacked with combination of punches.
One such onslaught led the referee to give Diushebaev his first eight count. Having taken the opening two rounds, Deepak was more defensive in the final three minutes. He boxed smartly, landing jabs whenever he got the opportunity.
He will now face B. Bennama of France in the semi-finals on Friday.
Two-time Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Hussamundin then had to toil hard as he eked out a 4-3 split decision win in a close fight against J Diaz Ibanez of Bulgaria.
”It was a tough bout because my opponent was playing really rough and it caused me some problems but somehow I prevailed to win and proceed to the next round.
”Our plan was to keep moving in the ring and make my opponent work to reach me to attack and it worked perfectly as I hit a lot of side blows to gather points in the bout,” stated Hussamuddin after the victory.
Hussamudin was involved in a messy bout that involved a lot of clinching. The first round was fought on even keel with Hussamudin edging past the Bulgarian fifth seed 3-2 in the quarterfinals.
As the seconds ticked by, Hussamudin became more confident and started dominating the proceedings. He landed heavy blows to take the final two rounds.
Hussamuddin will go up against Saidel Horta of Cuba in the semifinals. Nishant’s performance was the cherry on the cake as he knocked out Cuba’s Jorge Cuellar by an unanimous verdict.
The 22-year-old, who is the reigning national champion, was relentless and kept attacking the Cuban through out the nine minutes.
Nishant, who made a quarterfinal exit in the last edition, was determined to not make a last eight exit again. He was quicker than his opponent and used that to land a flurry of punches on Cuellar’s face. He also used body blows to tire out his opponent and book a place in the last four of the light middleweight category.
”Our strategy was to create pressure on the opponent from the first round and stay strong mentally during the whole bout.
”I will take this positive mindset in the next round as well to reach the final. Securing a bronze medal at the World Championships is great but I will be back to India with a gold medal,” commented Nishant after the match.
Nishant will fight with Asian champion Aslanbek Shymbergenov of Kazakhstan for a place in the final.
India has so far won a total of seven medals, including a silver, in the previous editions.
India’s previous medal winners at the men’s World Championships include Vijender Singh (bronze, 2009), Vikas Krishan (bronze, 2011), Shiva Thapa (bronze, 2015), Gaurav Bidhuri (bronze, 2017), Panghal (silver, 2019), Kaushik (bronze, 2019) and Akash Kumar (bronze, 2021).