Jakarta: Amit Panghal (49kg) on Saturday became only the eighth Indian boxer ever to claim a gold medal at the Asian Games with a stunning tactical win over reigning Olympic and Asian champion Hasanboy Dusmatov in the summit clash here. The 22-year-old Army man, the only Indian to make the finals, prevailed 3-2 against the more fancied Dusmatov, who had beaten him in a split verdict in last year’s world championships.
Amit, making his debut at the Games, showed immense tactical brilliance, especially in defence to outwit the Uzbek, who has an iconic status in international boxing. Dusmatov won a silver in the world championship last year. But today, the Haryana-boxer extracted sweet revenge for the narrow loss in Hamburg, keeping his range and striking some clean right hooks and jabs to his shorter and slightly edgy opponent.
The Uzbek southpaw, known for his brilliant counter-attacks, seemed wary of the constantly-on-the-move Indian, who refused to fall into the trap of diving in. The result was a frustrated Dusmatov being forced to lunge forward which worked perfectly well for the Indian in his counter-attacking game.
Today’s win marks the highest point Amit’s meteoric rise to the top, starting with an Asian Championships bronze last year. A world quarter-finalist, Amit claimed a silver in the Commonwealth Games. Earlier this year, he also won gold medals at the inaugural India Open and the prestigious Strandja memorial in Bulgaria.
Vijender Singh and Vikas Krishan were the last set of male gold-medallists for India at the Asian Games. They had won their yellow metal at the 2010 Guangzhou edition. Vikas (75kg) settled for a bronze this time. In the 2014 Games, M C Mary Kom was the lone gold-medallist for India.