The Indian boxer was admittedly nervous in his bout against his Mongolian counterpart.
No. 1 ranked boxer Amit Panghal booked a men’s flyweight (48-52kg) quarter-final spot by getting the better of his Mongolian opponent Enkhmanadakh Kharkhuu in Saturday’s preliminary bout in the Asian boxing Olympic qualifiers.
In a fight that saw a quick-off-the-blocks Amit Panghal run out of steam in the second and third rounds, he did just enough to earn a 3-2 split decision from the panel of judges.
The opening round saw an extremely quick and agile Panghal leave Kharkhuu unable to keep up with his speed. Skittering around the ring, the fleet-footed Indian boxer delivered quick one-twos on target to bag some valuable points early.
After leading his opponent into the left-cross counter on more than one occasion, Kharkhuu tried to adapt to the Indian’s strategy, trying his best not to overreach.
However, with some excellent right jab-left cross combos, Amit Panghal ensured a 4-1 split decision in his favour.
Amit Panghal began the second round similar to the first, with his quick movement around the ring making it very difficult for Kharkhuu to pin him down.
Moving in and out of range, Panghal kept trying to draw a lead from Kharkhuu. During this time, the Mongolian sent out a flurry of punches but most of them missed the mark.
They did dislodge Amit Panghal’s mouthguard though, forcing the Indian to request a timeout with a minute and 32 seconds left on the clock.
That was when early signs of fatigue started to show in Amit Panghal’s body language, with his hands on the ropes and a look of exhaustion on his face.
Employing his right hook effectively during the final minute of the fight following the timeout, Panghal got some crucial on-target shots in the bag but a 3-2 score reflected the gains Kharkhuu had made in the second round.
The third round saw a stark difference in Amit Panghal’s form. The rapid movement and lightning-quick punches from earlier were nowhere to be seen and the Indian boxer was now being forced to play a defensive game instead.
Sensing blood, Kharkhuu notched up the aggression. Halfway into the round, lunging at the Mongolian with a right-cross saw Amit Panghal fall down on the canvas.
After getting up, the Indian boxer looked out of it, visibly staggering while Kharkhuu kept working away, landing some effective hooks and sending Panghal down on the floor for the second time.
After the fight came to a finish, the body language of both boxers suggested an obvious victory for Khakhuu. However, much to the Mongolian’s astonishment, it was Amit Panghal who was adjudged the winner by a 3-2 split decision.
Speaking exclusively to the Olympic Channel after the fight, Amit Panghal said, “It was a close fight and I’d lost to this boxer once before, so I was nervous. But working on the strategy I made with my coaches paid off, and we’ll keep working on that.”
Coming up next in Saturday afternoon session, Gaurav Solanki will face no. 1 seed Mirazizbek Mirzakhalilov in the men’s featherweight (52-57kg) next. Should Solanki defeat the Uzbek boxer, he will face the winner of the Bakhtovar Sagizov (Tajikistan) vs Sing Yu Tso (Hong Kong) fight.
Later, the evening session will see Mary Kom take to the ring for the first time in the Asian boxing Olympic qualifiers, as she faces New Zealand’s Benny Tasmyn in the first round.
You can follow all the action from the Asian boxing Olympic qualifiers live exclusively on the Olympic Channel as well as our Facebook page. The morning session will get underway at 1:30 PM IST while the evening session is scheduled to begin at 8:30 PM IST.
You can also follow the daily live blog in both English and Hindi on the Olympic Channel.