Indian pugilist made an impressive start at the the 19th World Boxing Championships, notching up impressive wins in their opening bouts on Day 1 of the mega event being held at Hamburg, Germany.
Amit Phangal (49kg) and Gaurav Bidhuri (56kg), both making their debut at the World Championships took to the ring and produced some stellar boxing to overcome their opponents and advance to round two in their respective weight categories.
Asian bronze-medallist Amit was the first to take the ring was to slow to begin with but eventually gained momentum to edge past Italian Federico Serra in a split verdict. The 21-year-old from Haryana, competing in the biggest tournament of his career, was rather sluggish in the opening round, allowing his rival easy shots. However, he shook off the slumber in the second and third round with some well-placed hooks and straights.
In fact, Amit managed to out-pace his rival quite well in the closing three minutes, which perhaps tilted the scales in his favour. "This is my first year in the senior circuit and so far it has turned out to be quite well. I am happy with the results I am getting," Amit, whose biggest achievement so far has been the Asian bronze medal he won earlier this year, told PTI after his bout.
His ascent to the senior level has been rather meteoric, considering that he never figured prominently in Indian boxing's youth circuit.
"Yes, I have never been among the most talked about in the youth circuit, didn't get too many opportunities either but at the senior level, I am trying to make a mark. I spent an entire year trying to figure out my weaknesses and that is what is getting me results now," he added.
"I take pride in being a hardworking boxer. I slog a lot and that is getting me the results perhaps," he added. The nimble-footed boxer will be up against Carlos Quipo of Ecuador in his second-round bout. Quipo is seeded seventh and has got an opening round bye. Gaurav was the next man in for India and he was up against Sam Goodman, an 18-year-old world youth bronze- medallist and Oceania champion who sought crowd-funding to compete in the big event.
The 23-year-old Indian, disadvantaged to an extent by his short height, more than made up for it with his relentless attacks and didn't concede much to his younger opponent. In fact, Goodman was left rather dazed by Gaurav's hitting and had little to offer in retaliation.
Gaurav's upper cuts stood out for impact and the judges had no hesitation in awarding the bout unanimously to the Delhi boxer.
Awaiting him in the second round is sixth-seeded Mauritian Jean-Jordy Vadamootoo. Vadamootoo is the reigning African champion and got a bye into the second round.
Gaurav's entry to the World Championship has been nothing short of a lucky break. He had lost in the Asian Championships quarterfinals to miss out on automatic qualification but got a wild card from the Asian Boxing Confederation to make the cut.