Commonwealth Games gold medallist Amit Panghal and national champion Sachin delivered stellar performances to clinch gold medals at the 75th Strandja Memorial Tournament in Sofia, Bulgaria, on Sunday. Amit Panghal (51kg) pulled off a stunning 5-0 win over reigning world champion Sanzhar Tashkenbay. Much like his previous performances in the tournament, Amit dominated his opponent with pinpoint precision and speed in his attack. The national champion Amit was on target on most occasions with his trademark jab and left hook and didn’t let loose the grip of the bout even for a second.
As the bout progressed, the Indian pugilist became more and more dominant and stayed in attacking mode even in the third round. Kazakh boxer kept looking for a way out during the whole bout but Amit stood his ground, securing his fourth consecutive unanimous decision win of the tournament to clinch the gold medal.
Contrary to the first match, Sachin (57kg) took some time to settle in against Uzbekistan’s Shakhzod Muzafarov. Both the boxers were equally dominant in the first round though Sachin managed to win it by a slight 3-2 advantage.
The boxer from Haryana grew in confidence as the bout progressed and used his height advantage while timing his punches to perfection in the second and third rounds to emerge victorious by a 5-0 margin.
Meanwhile, the reigning world champion Nikhat Zareen missed her third Strandja gold medal after going down 2-3 in a closely fought final against Uzbekistan’s Sabina Bobokulova. Nikhat did not have the best of starts as her Uzbeki counterpart went aggressive from the word go.
The Indian pugilist found it hard to settle in as she lost the first round 1-4. Nikhat did find her rhythm in the second round but the former Junio Asian champion Sabina was very solid defensively and her quick head movements made it difficult for Nikhat to connect the punches as she found herself behind 2-3 in the second round.
The momentum shifted in the third round as the 27-year-old boxer from Telangana went into a complete offensive mode winning the round 5-0. However, it wasn’t enough to win the bout as she settled for silver.
Arundhati Choudhary (66kg) nearly pulled off a historic win against China’s Yang Liu. The final went down to the wire with the reigning world champion Yang winning the bout 4-1. Both the boxers were hesitant at the start and did not engage in attack as they waited for each other’s move. Arundhati lost the first round 3-2.
The Asian Games gold medallist Yang relied on her experience, employing calculated moves and prioritizing her defence. She strategically scored points at regular intervals, ultimately winning the second and third rounds with identical 4-1 scorelines.
While Barun Singh Shagolshem (48kg) lost 0-4 to Khodzhiev Anvarzhan of Kyrgyzstan in the final. The crowd witnessed an explosive start as both the boxers tried to earn points early in the match. Barun managed to make a mark in the initial minute but it was the boxer from Kyrgyzstan who was more aggressive among the two. Barun lost the first round 1-4. The Krygyz boxer took the challenge head-on in the second round and even forced a countdown against Barun to win it by 5-0.
The Indian boxer did manage to put up a solid fight in the third round winning it by 3-2 but the final verdict went against him.
Rajat (67kg) was the last pugilist in action for Team India against Kazakhstan’s Bekbauov Dulat. The bout was evenly poised throughout as it looked like it could go in anyone’s favour. Both the boxers used their strength and delivered multiple blows at regular intervals. The second and third rounds saw the Kazakh boxer making calculative moves as he scored points regularly which also helped him in the last round, giving him a 3-2 victory in the match.