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Gave 100 Percent but Improvements to be Done, Says World Championships Silver Medallist Amit Panghal

Amit Panghal said that he gave his 100 percent in the final of the World Boxing Championships, where he had to settle for silver, but added he has work to do ahead of 2020 Tokyo Olympics.


Updated:September 23, 2019, 6:46 PM IST
Gave 100 Percent but Improvements to be Done, Says World Championships Silver Medallist Amit Panghal
Amit Panghal won silver for India in World Championships. (Photo Credit: BFI)

New Delhi: Amit Panghal has had a good year in 2019. He first won the Asian Championships in April -- beating Olympic 52kg bronze medallist Hu Jinguan along the way -- and now he has become the first Indian to win silver at the World Championships. And yet, the 23-year-old is still coming to terms with his new weight category in the ring.

It was after he won gold at the 2018 Asian Games that he realised that his category will no longer be considered for the Olympics -- light flyweight (48kg). At a couple of inches over five feet, Panghal finds himself as the shorter person in the ring more often than not and now he has a weight shift to deal with. And yet, he seems to have taken to it like duck takes to water.

"I have always trained with a taller boxer," Panghal told IANS after returning from Ekaterinburg on Monday. "In 52-kg category, I am always the shortest one. Everyone I have fought has been taller than me."

Panghal said that his need to improve upon his strength and power was apparent in the final against Uzbekistan's Shakhobidin Zoirov, who is the reigning 52-kg Olympic champion. Panghal lost that bout by a unanimous 5-0 decision, although it was a much closer affair than the scoreline suggested.

"I think I have to work on my power a little more. I had to change my weight category from 48kg to 52kg and boxers in this weight category deploy more power in their punches. Uzbek boxers are very strong anyhow. My opponent in the final was an Olympic champion. I gave my 100 percent here but there are improvements to be done," he said.

Panghal using his shorter height to his advantage was more than apparent in his semi-final victory against Kazakhstan's Saken Bibossinov, who stands a full four inches taller than him. "My stance is such that I try to remain as close as possible to my opponent because that helps me block out their unfinished punches. I can then land my punches properly and when that happens the opponent becomes unnerved.

National coach Santiago Nieva reckons that Panghal's success comes from the fact that he excels in using his height.

"Already from the beginning he showed he can overcome that disadvantage and even use it to his advantage," Nieva said. "When he changed the weight category in the beginning of the year the main concern was how he will deal with the difference in height and size. But he started by winning the trials at home against stronger opponents. And then at the Asian Championships, he beat the Olympic and Worlds medallists who were all tall opponents."

Nieva said that Panghal will need to work on how to take control of bouts from the beginning. "In the World Championships, bouts were obviously very tricky. It takes him about a round or a round and a half to figure out his opponents and then, once he finds his range and room for his punches then he makes the difference. But we need work on how he can gain that clarity in the first round itself," he said.

"In the final, he found it hard to land cleanly with his upper hand right which was very successful in the previous bouts. It became tricky for him to reach the opponent with that and because of that, he lost his balance sometimes. We hoped that if he could stay close to the body and land a few punches there it would make a difference but it didn't work out.

"I haven't really watched the fight again yet, but the danger when you have such success with one move is that you start overdoing it and become predictable. So we need to make sure that he has enough weapons in his arsenal," said Nieva.

Panghal would next be in action at the Military World Games that will be held in Wuhan, China next month. "I will be facing those that I couldn't face here as most boxers are in the military. The experience will be very useful for me going into the Olympic qualifiers," he said.

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