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Men's Boxing Worlds: Thapa leads Indian contingent in Panghal's absence

Thirteen of India’s top men’s boxers, sans Amit Panghal, will be in action over the next fortnight as the 2023 Men’s World Boxing Championships get underway in Tashkent, Uzbekistan from April 30 – May 14. The Indian team goes into the Worlds after participating in a 12-day multi-nation training camp in Tashkent.

The men’s Worlds come a little over a month since India enjoyed a stellar Women’s World Championships – where Nitu Ghangas, Nikhat Zareen, Lovlina Borgohain and Saweety Boora each won gold medals.

Their male counterparts, led by six-time Asian Championships medallist Shiva Thapa, will hope to replicate their fortunes at the showpiece event. India has a fairly young squad, with Thapa being the most decorated boxer among the 13, while all eyes will be on 2019 Asian Championships silver medallist Deepak Bhoria, who pipped Amit to the top spot in the 51kg category.

Wait, where’s Amit Panghal?

Simply put, Amit was not good enough to make the cut for the team. As per the new selection criteria introduced by newly-appointed High-Performance Director Bernard Dunne, boxers in each weight category were evaluated over a 12-day training camp and the best-performing athlete would make the team. In Amit’s case, he managed to score only 682 points, while Deepak scored 731 points over the 12-day evaluation process.

Who are the other big names in Amit’s absence?

There’s Thapa, of course, who will be looking to better the bronze he won in 2015. There are no other Worlds medallists in the Indian squad but plenty of promising names such as Mohammad Hussamuddin [2022 Asian Championships and Commonwealth Games bronze medallist], Sachin Siwach [2021 World Youth Champion] and Tokyo Olympian Ashish Chaudhary.

Any word on the fresh faces?

There are five boxers in the Indian squad who are under the age of 23: Sumit Kundu [20], Harsh Choudhary [20] Sachin Siwach [21], Nishant Dev [22] and Akash Sangwan [23]. Four out of the five are reigning national champions in their respective weight categories [Harsh won silver].

Looking at their major achievements, Sachin, a world youth champion, won bronze at the 2023 Strandja Memorial and Nishant made it to the quarters of the 2021 World Championships in Serbia.

Sumit won gold at the Thailand Open last year, while Harsh and Akash are yet to make an impact on the international level.

What’s India’s full squad for the Men’s World Boxing Championships?

Govind Sahani (48kg), Deepak Bhoria (51kg), Sachin Siwach (54kg), Mohammad Hussamuddin (57kg), Varinder Singh (60kg), Shiva Thapa (63.5kg), Akash Sangwan (67kg), Nishant Dev (71kg), Sumit Kundu (75kg), Ashish Chaudhary (80kg), Harsh Choudhary (86kg), Naveen Kumar (92kg) and Narender Berwal (92+kg).

There was some talk about nations boycotting the event…

Just like at the Women’s Worlds, a bunch of countries including Great Britain and the USA have chosen to boycott the Men’s Boxing World Championships as well due to the International Boxing Association’s [IBA] decision to allow Russian and Belarusian boxers to compete under their own flag.

The IBA’s decision goes against the International Olympic Committee’s [IOC] recommendations due to the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine and hence over 15 nations have chosen to skip the event. In addition, the IBA filed a complaint with the Boxing Independent Integrity Unit (BIIU) over USA and GB forming a breakaway ‘World Boxing’ federation.

Is there an Olympic quota on offer?

Nope. The IBA tried to strong-arm the IOC by saying it would consider the World Championships as qualifiers for the Olympics, but the IOC said nothing-doing. As per the IOC, the five different regional events this year [Asian Games for Indian boxers] will serve as the Olympics qualification events for boxers.

Is there better prize money this time around?

Yep, a hefty raise indeed. The total prize money has been doubled to ₹42.4 crore [$5.2 million]. Each of the gold medallists will pocket ₹1.63 crore [$200,000], the runners-up will receive ₹81.5 lakhs [$100,000] and the bronze medallists will get ₹40.8 lakhs [$50,000].

Where can I watch the IBA Men’s World Boxing Championships?

The IBA Men’s World Boxing Championships will be streamed live on the IBA Youtube channel.

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