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Posted at: May 23, 2019, 7:36 AM; last updated: May 23, 2019, 7:36 AM (IST)INDIA OPEN

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Local favourite Thapa roars into semis | Nine Indians progress to last-4 in men’s category

Guwahati, May 22

It was a spectacular homecoming for World Championships bronze medallist Shiva Thapa, while Asian Games gold medallist Amit Panghal also lived up to his billing as nine Indians progressed to the men’s semifinals of the India Open boxing tournament here today.

Three years after he was crowned national champion at the same venue, a matured Thapa returned stronger as he clinically executed his plans to outwork his taller opponent from Mauritius, Hellene Damien, 5-0 and set up a semifinal clash against D Krystian Sczepanski of Poland in the 60kg category.

“I was facing a taller opponent like him for the first time in my category,” said Thapa, who will switch to 63kg after the tournament. “He had better reach so my strategy was to hit him from close range and then quickly go out of his reach. It worked out perfectly,” he added.

Thapa’s bout generated a lot of buzz as hordes of school children and his family members, including father Padam, waited anxiously for the local favourite to take the ring. “I can’t express in words the feeling. The spectators were all on their toes and it was about living up to their expectations,” said Thapa, who had won a bronze medal at the Asian Championships in Bangkok last month to become the first Indian man to claim four consecutive medals at the event.

Ankit and Manish Kaushik set up the other semifinal clash after 5-0 wins in the 60kg category.

All-Indian show in 52kg

In the 52kg category, Indians ruled the roost, with Panghal, national champion PL Prasad, former world youth champion Sachin Siwach and reigning Commonwealth Games champion Gaurav Solanki making it an all-Indian semis lineup.

Panghal, who claimed the 49kg gold after defeating reigning Olympics champion Hasanboy Dusmatov of Uzbekistan in the Asian Games final last year, opted to play a waiting game against Thailand’s Chakapong Chanpirom in the first round. Panghal then stepped it up to win 5-0. “It took some time for me to assess him but I’m happy that it paid off,” said Panghal, who had clinched the 52kg gold in the Asian Championships by beating Dusmatov.

Panghal will take on Prasad in the semifinals, while Siwach will take on Solanki.

Siwach’s revenge

Siwach did his homework well to exact revenge on World Championships bronze winner Rogen Ladon of Philippines. The two-time Olympian had defeated Siwach by split-decision in the President’s Cup quarterfinals last year. Siwach waited to capitalise on the Filipino’s mistakes before going for the kill, winning 4-1. “Last time I went for an all-out attack that did not pay off. I watched videos of the bout and this time I could rectify my mistakes,” said Siwach.

Siwach also got the support of his father and uncle who had come all the way from Haryana to support him.

About his bout against Solanki, who had it easy against Louis Fleurot of Mauritius, Siwach said: “We have never faced each other in a competition. But I’ve been his sparring partner in the camp. I’m 100 per cent confident of an easy win.”

Ashish Kumar (75kg) prevailed over the fancied Argentine Francisco Veron 4-1 to make the semifinals. Olympian Sumit Sangwan (91kg) also advanced to the semifinals. — PTI

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