Amit Panghal’s Asian boxing Olympic qualifiers campaign in Amman, Jordan came to an end on Tuesday after the top seeded Indian boxer lost to China’s Hu Jianguan by split decision.
In a surprising change of strategy, the Indian flyweight opted to fight on the front foot without much success as Hu Jianguan landed the more telling blows in the first two rounds.
Amit Panghal enjoyed a better final round, connecting with more shots than he had in the opening two, but it wasn’t enough to get him the win.
“I entered the ring with a strategy to win,” he told the Olympic Channel after the bout. “I lost the first two rounds but in the third round I came back, but because I lost the first two rounds, I lost in the end.”
On his ambitions for the 2020 Olympics, Amit Panghal added, “I’ll try to be better and adapt my strategy to whatever boxers I face there. I’ll try to watch videos of them and try to prepare myself appropriately.”
The first bout of the morning session at the Asian boxing Olympic qualifiers featuring an Indian boxer also ended in defeat as third seed China's Gu Hong got the better of second seed Lovlina Borgohain via unanimous decision.
Amit Panghal undone by his change in strategy
Amit Panghal entered the ring, knowing he had gotten the better of his opponent in the Asian Championships semi-final from last year but Hu Jianguan was looking for payback.
The Indian pugilist was boxing on the front foot straight from the start and had some early success with shots to Hu Jianguan’s body and face.
The Chinese boxer was targeting an advancing Amit Panghal’s body and chose to spend the majority of the round, fighting on the back foot.
Hu Jianguan’s tactics to fight on the back foot worked perfectly with him connecting consistently on the counter in the first round, while Amit Panghal waited for the final minute of the round to let fly, leading to a 3-2 split in favour of the Chinese pugilist.
The Indian boxer was more attacking in the second round, connecting with body shots and breaking through Hu Jianguan’s guard with a beautiful right.
However, Hu Jianguan found his footing as the round progressed and began connecting with cleaner punches than that of his opponent.
Aware of what Amit Panghal was attempting, Hu Jianguan ensured to maintain distance with the number one seed looking to punch his way back into the contest.
Neither boxer dominated the second round, however, it was Hu Jianguan that won it 3-2 as well, leaving Amit Panghal a mountain to climb in the third.
The final round saw Amit Panghal trying to push the action by driving Hu Jianguan into the corners and ropes to unload on him.
Hu Jianguan, though, replied with quickfire combinations to get out of such situations and reestablish distance between him and Amit Panghal.
The Indian boxer kept throwing huge lefts in a desperate bid to find a finish but kept falling short with the Chinese flyweight often avoiding contact.
Hu Jianguan also utilized clinches to slow the pace of the fight as Amit Panghal let his hands go towards the end of the round.
The Indian boxer kept going till the final bell, even connecting with some cuffing lefts but it wasn’t enough to deny Hu Jianguan a split decision win.
Lovlina Borgohain falters in semi-finals
Lovlina Borgohain, bronze medallist at last year's World Championships, tried to work the inside in the early stages of her bout against Gu Hong without much luck.
Both fighters ended up cancelling each other out due to their similar boxing styles and reach, which made for a scrappy start to the bout.
Gu Hong, though, connected with crisper punches by the end of the round and mostly avoided contact from Lovlina Borgohain’s counters to win the first round 4-1.
The second round saw the Chinese pugilist dominate Lovlina Borgohain after setting the tone with a left check as the bronze medal winner from last year's World Championships looked to come in.
Lovlina Borgohain continued to push the pace but wasn’t pulling off that many scoring punches despite letting fly.
Gu Hong also ended the round strong, landing a clubbing left that was followed by a sweeping right on the bell to win the round 5-0.
With a stoppage her only chance of qualification to the final in the third round, Lovlina Borgohain came out of her corner all guns blazing.
Unperturbed, Gu Hong was happy to stand her ground and land some solid punches instead of always backing away.
Lovlina Borgohain demonstrated her heart and desire by fighting till the final bell, but Gu Hong had well and truly got a measure of the Indian boxer by this stage and used her movement to get a deserved unanimous decision win and book her spot in the final.
"I tried my best. I did what my coaches told me. In the future I'll work on this, it didn't go the way we planned,” Lovlina Borgohain said after her bout.
“I've already qualified for Tokyo, I wanted to take the gold in this tournament, but it didn't happen. But surely I'll try to win a medal at the Olympics,” she added.
When and where to watch the Asian boxing Olympic qualifiers
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