Zoirov too strong for Panghal in world flyweight final

Asian Games champion forced to settle for silver after going down to Olympic champion Shakhobidin Zoirov by unanimous decision.

By Swapnil Bhopatkar ·

Amit Panghal claimed India's first ever silver medal at the AIBA Men’s World Boxing Championships, but could not win the gold he so desperately craved.

Uzbekistan's reigning Olympic champion Shakhobidin Zoirov proved too strong in the 52kg final in Yekaterinburg, Russia, winning by unanimous decision to claim his first world crown.

Shaky start

The Uzbek made an excellent start, landing a near-perfect punch on Panghal’s left jaw.

But the Indian pugilist soon made progress, evading his opponent's blows and connecting a couple of jabs.

The Asian Games gold medallist tried to attack the body but Zoirov was smart enough not to allow the Indian's shot to land.

Zoirov took the first round, but Panghal’s agility and strong defence after that early scare made it less one-sided than it could have been.

Found off guard

The Indian, who defeated Kazakhstan’s Saken Bibissonov 3-2 in a split decision verdict in the semi-final, came out firing in Round 2.

But he was wild with Zoirov happy to bide his time and pick him off.

"Don’t throw unnecessary punches. He has no chance because you are strong and quick," screamed the coach from the Indian corner.

Despite being advised to maintain his distance, Panghal made an aggressive start to the final round.

The Uzbek, for his part, made full use of his longer reach with both boxers unloading a flurry of punches at the end.

While Panghal seemed confident after the final bell, the judges scored the contest 30-27, 30-27, 29-28, 29-28, 29-28 in favour of the Olympic champion who secured his sixth 5-0 unanimous decision out of six.

While his valiant effort was ultimately in vain, the 23-year-old had become the first Indian man to win silver at a boxing World Championships.

The attention now switches to the Women's World Championships which starts in Ulan Ude, Russia on 3 October.

Mary Kom is seeking a record seventh world title with Sarita Devi also in the medal hunt.