Upstaging Olympic champ a memory to cherish for Amit Panghal

Before the 2018 Asian Games final match, Amit Panghal had never beaten his opponent.

Ace Indian boxer currently ranked world number one in the 52kg category, Amit Panghal has picked his 2018 Asian Games final bout against Uzbekistan’s Hasanboy Dusmatov as his career’s favourite victory so far.

Having first come into the limelight with a gold medal at the 2017 National Boxing Championships, Amit Panghal had become a boxing sensation in a very short time.

However, the Uzbekistan boxer remained the biggest hurdle for the Haryana pugilist ahead of the Asian Games gold medal meet.

“I had lost to him twice prior to that and he was standing there at the other end again,” Amit Panghal said in an Instagram Live session with former Indian wrestler Sangram Singh.

“So, I knew that I could become the best only by beating him. I remember telling my coach that all my training has been to overcome this opponent,” he added.

The 2016 Olympic champion, Hasanboy Dusmatov, was known for his jump-and-punch technique and was the standout boxer in the 49kg at the 2018 Asian Games.

But a well-prepared Amit Panghal was quick enough to stay out of his reach this time, and he won it 3-2.

“It was a close bout and I knew I couldn't lose to him the third time. I was ready to give more than 100 per cent,” the boxer said.

Once the first hurdle was over and the head-to-head read 2-1 in the Uzbek’s favour, Amit Panghal got a chance to level things at the 2019 Asian Championships quarter-finals.

Both the boxers had shifted to 52kg by then and while the challenges were different, Amit Panghal was the better boxer on the day.

“After the last bout at the Asiad was close, I wanted to have a comprehensive victory over him this time,” Amit Panghal pointed out.

“My preparations were done accordingly, and I won 4-1 this time.”

Bulking up in two months

Having trained in the light flyweight category all his life, shifting up a weight category was expected to be a challenge for the Haryana boxer after the 49kg was excluded from the Tokyo Olympics.

But a hard-working Amit Panghal never doubted his abilities.

“The amount of hard work I did in the 49kg, the way I analysed my opponents and trained – all of it is now at par with what I have done for the 52kg category,” Panghal said.

“I remember asking for two months for practising in the 52kg as there has to be a better reach and endurance in this than the lower category,” he explained.

Though his coach had given Amit Panghal three months to get ready for the 52kg category, the pugilist had bulked up in two months and won a gold medal at the national trials.

Amit Panghal has since won a silver medal at the World Boxing Championships in the new category and has also sealed his maiden Olympics spot at the Asian Boxing Olympic qualifiers.

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