Amman: Five Indian boxers, including the seasoned trio of Vikas Krishan (69kg), Pooja Rani (75kg) and Satish Kumar (+91kg), secured Tokyo Olympic berths on Sunday by advancing to the semi-finals of the Asian Qualifiers with mostly commanding victories.
Satish, Rani, Krishan, Lovlina Borgohain (69kg) and Ashish Kumar (75kg) became the first set of Indian boxers to qualify for quadrennial showpiece scheduled in July-August this year.
While fourth-seeded Rani notched up a facile 5-0 win over Thailand's Pornnipa Chutee, Krishan endured a difficult one against third-seeded Japanese Sewonrets Okazawa before also prevailing in a unanimous verdict against the Asian silver-medallist.
In the evening session, two-time world bronze-winner and second seed Borgohain eased past Uzbekistan's Maftunakhon Melieva to enter the semifinals.
Also through to the last-four stage was Asian silver-medallist Ashish with a 5-0 win over Indonesia's Maikhel Roberrd Muskita, the bout being more intense than what the final scoreline might suggest.
Commonwealth Games silver-medallist and fourth seed Satish Kumar (+91kg) then put it past Mongolia's Daivii Otgonbayar 5-0 in the final Indian bout of the day to make it a highly successful outing for the country. Satish has a tough at hand in the semifinal where he will face reigning world champion and top seed Bakhodir Jalolov of Uzbekistan.
"I managed to execute whatever I had planned. I wanted to fight from a distance and counter-attack, which I could do. Just qualifying is not enough, I want to now win a gold medal," a jubilant Borgohain, who hails from Assam, said after her bout.
However, first-timer Sachin Kumar (81kg) went down in a split decision to China's national champion Daxaing Chen in his quarterfinal bout.
Sachin, nonetheless, remains in the hunt for an Olympic berth if he can win the two-bout box-off between the losing quarterfinalists. The top five boxers in his category will get a spot in the Tokyo Games.
While Rani, Borgohain Ashish, and Satish secured their maiden Olympic spots, Krishan will be making his third successive appearance at the Games.
"I had never fought against this girl before today and honestly, I was a bit scared. I had told my coaches about it before the bout. They instilled confidence in me and I could pull off a one-sided result. I am happy," said the 29-year-old Rani, who fought career-threatening shoulder and hand injuries before her gold at last year's Asian Championships.
Rani will next face the reigning world and Asian champion Li Qian of China, who has the top billing in the 75 kg category. Qian had no trouble beating Mongolia's Myagmarjargal Munkhbat 5-0 in the opening bout of the day.
Taking full advantage of her longer reach, Rani outpunched the inexperienced but determined Chutee. The Indian is a three-time Asian medallist besides being a bronze-winner at the 2014 Asian Games.
Krishan, however, had to slog hard against a brilliant boxer, whose performance was eye-catching despite the loss. Okazawa, a gold-winner at the Olympic Test Event last year, kept Krishan on his toes and his right jabs were particularly effective.
What worked for the Haryana-lad was consistent straight punches to the body, which fetched him the bulk of the points.
Awaiting Krishan in the semifinals is second-seeded Ablaikhan Zhussupov of Kazakhstan, a two-time world bronze-medallist and a former Asian silver-winner. Zhussupov defeated Thailand's Wuttichai Masuk in a unanimous verdict.
Krishan is making a comeback in the amateur fold after taking the professional plunge after the 2016 Rio Olympics. He had an unbeaten run in the circuit before a back injury changed his plans.
Upon his return to the amateur boxing last year, he won a gold medal at the South Asian Games in December.
Later, Sachin was out-scored by Chen, a taller man who found his range after trailing in the opening round.
Using his telescopic range, Chen managed to connect some clean straights while Kumar paid dearly for holding back too much after dominating the first round.
In the evening session, Borgohain and Kumar continued the rampaging run with comprehensive victories. While Borgohain dominated all through, Ashish found his bearings after a competitive opening round against Muskita.
Next up for Ashish is top seed and reigning world silver-medallist Eumir Marcial of the Philippines.
"I am happy with how I performed. My next fight is a tough one but I will give it my all," Ashish said after the bout.
Satish was the last Indian to take the ring on Sunday and he signed off the proceedings in style, thrashing his 38-year-old rival in a domineering performance.