Young pugilist Akash Kumar has created history by assuring India its seventh medal in the history of the World Boxing Championships. The 21-year-old defeated Venezuela’s Yoel Finol 5-0 in an emphatic fashion. Yoel Finol was the favourites going into the clash as he had won the silver medal at the Rio Olympics. But Akash Kumar was very aggressive right from the start and did not allow Finol any chance to come back into the game.
The Indian pugilist will now take on Kazakhstan’s Makhmud Sabyrkhan in the 54kg semi-final. It will be another tough clash for Akash as he aims to qualify for the finals of the World Boxing Championships.
Akash’s opponent Sabyrkhan has also had an inspiring journey to the semifinals. The 20-year-old Kazakh defeated Brazil’s first quarterfinalist Michael Trinidade.
With a medal at the World Championships assured, debutant Akash Kumar joins a list of elite Indian boxers. Amit Panghal (silver in 2019), Vijender Singh (bronze in 2009), Vikas Krishan (bronze in 2011), Shiva Thapa (bronze in 2015), Gaurav Bidhuri (bronze in 2017) and Manish Kaushik (bronze in 2019) have won medals for India at the World Championship. The 21-year-old will hope to be the first Indian to bag the gold medal, for that he needs to get past Sabyrkhan in the semifinals.
While Akash Kumar assured India a medal at the World Boxing Championships by qualifying for the semifinals, four other pugilists have lost their quarterfinal bouts to crash out of the event empty-handed. Along with Akash, boxers like Shiva Thapa, Sanjeet, Narender Berwal and Nishant Dev also qualified for the quarterfinals are were a step away from assuring their respective medals.
At once it looked like India will win more than two medals in the world event in Serbia. But with Shiva Thapa and Asian Champion Sanjeet’s loss, the hopes came crashing down.
Veteran boxer Shiva Thapa went down fighting against Turkey’s Kerem Oezmen by a unanimous margin in the 63.5kg category. It was heartbreak for Thapa as he came so close to winning the medal.
It was unfortunate for reigning Asian champion Sanjeet as he suffered a biceps injury and could not hold his own against Italy’s Aziz Abbes Mouhiidine.
All eyes will now be on Indian sole warrior Akash Kumar as he aims to reach the finals of the World Boxing Championship.