Top 5 Indian Boxers to watch out for in the 2022 Commonwealth Games￼
Without a doubt, India is a cricket-obsessed nation but it doesn’t mean India hasn’t brought laurels in other sports. Talking about boxing, it is a popular sport in our country as many talented Indian boxers have already gone for glory on international stages.
An unprecedented 12 Indian boxers will be taking the ring at the Birmingham CWG Games, conscious of the fact that medal expectations from them are at an all-time high.
Parimatch News takes a look at the top 5 Indian boxers from the 12-man squad who are most likely to win a medal at the Commonwealth Games –
#5 Ashish Kumar Chaudhary
The gritty customer from Himachal Pradesh’s Sundar Nagar. He made the cut for Tokyo, a month after losing his father last year. The 27-year-old has been making steady progress in a weight category which a certain Vijender Singh made his own by scripting history more than once.
Ashish’s boxing journey hasn’t been the easiest. He lost the man who wanted to see him reach this point a month before he made the cut for the Olympics. And then prior to the start of the Olympics, COVID-19 caught him during a tournament in Spain. His athletic body however absorbed the blow and he showed no symptoms.
Ashish seemed a bit off-color in the recent Asian Championships where a bronze came his way but the way he has battled adversities outside the ring, the Tehsil Welfare Officer in Himachal Pradesh’s social justice department won’t be the one to be taken lightly at the upcoming Commonwealth Games.
#4 Shiva Thapa
Shiva Thapa is an Indian boxer from the city of Guwahati in the state of Assam. He is also the youngest Indian to compete in the 2012 Olympics. He received his training at the Army Sports Institute in Pune and has the support of Olympic Gold Quest and Angelina Media Hunt, a company which identifies and develops new talent for major competitions.
Shiva Thapa is India’s third Asian Games gold medallist and is currently ranked third in the AIBA World Boxing Championships. He was the first Indian boxer to qualify for the Summer Olympics at the age of 18. Shiva made his Olympic debut at the 2012 London Olympics at the age of 18 years old (56 kg Bantamweight division). In the first round, though, he was defeated 9–14 by Mexico’s Oscar Valdez Fierro.
The 28-year-old is the most successful Indian boxer in the history of the Asian Boxing Championships by advancing to the semi-finals of the ongoing edition in Dubai. His first was a gold medal in 2013, followed by a bronze in 2015, a silver in 2017, and another bronze in 2019.
Considering all the laurels that he achieved, he is definitely someone who is a sure-shot medal winner in the upcoming games.
#3 Amit Phangal
This flyweight is shouldering expectations that would be enough to bog down a super heavyweight in some cases. The world number one, the top seed, Panghal is being seen as a sure-shot medal for India in Birmingham. He knows it and he is revelling in the spotlight.
The Army man from Haryana is a nice mix of controlled aggression and tactical acumen. His cabinet already has the World Championships and Commonwealth Games silver medals, an Asian Games gold medal, and multiple Asian Championships medals.
Competing in his second Commonwealth Games, the 26-year-old has been unstoppable for the past five years, starting with a breakthrough Asian Championships bronze back in 2017. Even in loss, he has hardly ever looked outplayed. But he does know his weaknesses well. A late starter and someone who tends to wear off a bit in the final three minutes, Panghal says he has addressed the issues in his desperate pursuit of a second Olympic medal.
#2 Nikhat Zareen
Earlier this year, Nikhat Zareen lived up to the expectations as she clinched the coveted gold in the flyweight (52kg) division with a facile 5-0 win over Thailand’s Jitpong Jutamas in the final of the Women’s World Championship in Istanbul. Capping off a stupendous campaign that saw her dominate all her rivals, the Telangana boxer outpunched her Thai opponent to win via unanimous verdict with judges scoring the bout 30-27, 29-28, 29-28, 30-27, 29-28 in her favour.
By winning the championship, Nikhat became only the fifth Indian woman and the first other than Mary to win a World crown outside the 2006 edition, which witnessed four Indian gold medallists on home turf in Delhi. Nikhat was at her dominant best in the final against Thailand’s Jutamas Jitpong 5-0. In fact, Nikhat won each of her 4 bouts by unanimous decisions, asserting her dominance in the weight class in Istanbul.
Nikhat has had a fine run in 2022. The 25-year-old became the first Indian boxer to win more than one gold medal at the Standja Boxing Memorial Tournament and carried the form to Istanbul to bag the world title.
The spotlight will now be on Nikhat Zareern. With Mary taking a backseat, the nation’s hopes will be pinned on Nikhat. But the young pugilist, who had spent time waiting in the wings for long, will only cherish the attention and use it to strengthen her journey towards the Paris dreams. And looking at her current form, she is definitely one of the favourites to at least land a medal in the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
#1 Lovlina Borgohain
Competing in her maiden Olympics, Lovlina Borgohain carved a niche for herself in the history of Indian women’s boxing by clinching a bronze — India’s lone boxing medal at the Tokyo Games.
The 23-year-old, who was brought up in Baro Mukhia village of Assam’s Golaghat district, used to be a kickboxer, like her two elder sisters, before she turned to boxing.
A day before she was to leave with the Olympic-bound boxers group for a training camp in Europe, Borgohain had contracted COVID-19. But the missed opportunity couldn’t stop her from having a remarkable campaign in which she upstaged former world champion Nien-Chin Chen of Chinese Taipei in the 69kg category.
With the feat, she became only the third Indian boxer ever, after Vijender Singh and MC Mary Kom, to finish on the podium at the quadrennial showpiece. She would be hoping to emulate her Olympics performance and this time go better and win Gold in the 2022 CWG Birmingham games.