Nishant Dev books Paris Olympics ticket; Panghal, Siwach one win away from earning quotas

Bangkok, 31 May: World championships bronze medallist Nishant Dev (71kg) became the first Indian male pugilist to secure a Paris Games quota with a dominant quarterfinal win in the Boxing Olympic qualifiers here on Friday.

Dev, who had narrowly missed an Olympic berth in the previous qualifiers, earned the quota after defeating Vasile Cebotari of Moldova on unanimous decision in the battle of southpaws.

It was India’s fourth quota place with women boxers Nikhat Zareen (50kg), Preeti Pawar (54kg) and Lovlina Borgohain (75kg) having already secured their passage to Paris.

Amit Panghal (51kg) and Sachin Siwach (57kg) then moved within touching distance of Paris quotas in their respective categories.

Dev, who has been dominant all tournament, was off to a flyer, landing sharp, accurate punches. The Indian was more composed and used his punches judiciously to dominate the first three minutes.

In the second round, Cebotari fought back, landing a couple of blows and Dev looked a bit out of breath but the Indian’s experience shone bright as he mixed caution with aggression and landed a few hooks and uppercuts.

In the last three minutes, both boxers looked spent but Dev continued to land punches at will. Cebotari earned a point deduction for his punch to Dev when the Indian was down on the canvas.

In the evening session, Panghal out-punched South Korea’s Kim Inkyu in the pre-quarterfinals. The 2019 world championship silver medallist is now one win away from winning an Olympics quota.

Siwach too inched closer to an Olympic berth with an impressive 4-1 win over 2021 world championships bronze medallist French boxer Samuel Kistohurry in the quarterfinals.

However, with only three quota places on offer in the 57kg weight category, he needs to win one more bout to seal his Paris berth.

But, India’s quest for booking a quota in the women’s 60kg and 66kg and men’s 92kg ended with Ankushita Boro, Arundhati Choudhary and Sanjeet losing their respective bouts.

Boro went down 2-3 against Agnes Alexiusson of Sweden in the 60kg quarterfinals, while Arundhati was handed a 1-4 defeat by Slovakia’s Jessica Triebelova in the round of 16.

In the last Indian bout of the day, Sanjeet lost to Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist and 2021 world champion Alfonso Dominguez of Azerbaijan 0-5.

The 23-year-old Boro fought hard but her Swedish opponent, a former European Games bronze medallist, dug into her reservoir of experience to pip the Indian.

Boro, a former youth world champion, was slow off the blocks, but managed to adapt towards the end of the first round, using straight jabs effectively. It was enough to convince one judge.

Down 1-4, Boro made a blistering start in the second round, using the combination of left jab and right cross. The Indian was electric and the 28-year Alexiusson was unable to keep up.

The two entered the third round on equal footing and Boro was able to make early gains but Alexiusson ended the bout stronger taking the split decision win. (PTI)