Defending champion Amit Panghal (52kg) and Shiva Thapa (64kg) stormed into the Asian Boxing Championship finals with resounding victories in the last four stage here on Friday.
While Panghal out-punched familiar foe Saken Bibossinov of Kazakhstan 5-0, Thapa, the first Indian boxer in the tournament history to secure five medals, dominated top-seeded defending champion Bakhodur Usmonov of Tajikistan to make the finals with a 4-0 verdict.
However, tournament debutant and national champion Varinder Singh (60kg) settled for the bronze medal after a high-intensity clash against Iran’s Daniyal Shahbakhsh. The Indian lost 2-3 after fighting his heart out.
The Kazakh is a world championship bronze-medallist and had lost to silver-winner Panghal in the semifinals of that event as well.
The Indian played the waiting game to perfection as the third-seeded Bibossinov’s plan to dazzle him with early aggression fell flat as the bout progressed.
The world number one from Haryana became the aggressor in the final round as Bibossinov ran out of steam.
Panghal will square off against reigning Olympic and world champion Shakhobidin Zoirov of Uzbekistan in the final on Monday.
It will be a repeat of the 2019 world championship final in which the Indian had lost to settle for silver. It was slow domination for Thapa, who took a good measure of his rival in the opening round before unleashing some power-packed left hooks.
The Indian’s dominance reached its peak in the third round when Usmonov faced a standing eight count and Thapa taunted him with some well placed body blows.
The 27-year-old Thapa’s first medal at the event was a gold in 2013, followed by a bronze in 2015, a silver in 2017 and another bronze in 2019.
On Thursday night, four Indian women boxers had advanced to the finals. Six-time world champion M C Mary Kom (51kg), Lalbuatsaihi (64kg), Pooja Rani (75kg) and Anupama (+81kg) won their bouts to make the summit clash.
Of these, Pooja got a walkover after her opponent pulled out.
It was heartbreak for two-time world youth champion Sakshi Choudhary (54kg) as she lost her final spot after her rival, top-seeded Kazakh Dina Zholaman, successfully challenged the narrow victory that she had clinched in the last-four stage.
Sakshi had prevailed 3-2 in the regulation bout but the decision was challenged by the Kazakh team and eventually overturned.