JAKARTA: Amit Panghal pulled off a massive upset to outbox the 2016 Rio Olympic champion and win gold for India on Saturday, but it was Uzbekistan who became new lords of the Asian Games ring.
Kazakhstan had been the dominant force four years ago in Incheon winning six titles, but they handed the baton to Uzbekistan who had boxers in all seven men’s finals and took home five golds.
Amit, 22, kicked off finals day in pulsating fashion with the performance of the Games, edging a 3-2 split decision to take revenge on Uzbekistan’s Hasanboy Dusantov for defeat in last year’s World Championship light flyweight quarterfinal.
Amit kept his distance from the reigning Olympic and Asian champion and 2017 world silver medallist, picking off the Uzbek and never allowing him to get in close where his quick hands and inside work are most dangerous.
“The strategy worked, I thank my coaches,” Amit told AFP after the bout.
“The defence and counter was perfect. I will now go for an Olympic gold for my country in Tokyo. Winning a gold for India, I am happy.”
Amit, India’s only finalist at these Asian Games, lost a unanimous decision to the Uzbek a year ago in Tashkent but is maturing fast as a boxer and gave a hugely disciplined performance.
“Yes, I have taken revenge. It proves India is second to none. I felt pressure because all our boxers had lost (before the final) but I did well.”
Uzbekistan underlined their supremacy in Asian boxing after winning nine golds at last year’s continental championships.
They got off the mark with gold in the next bout when flyweight Jasurbek Latipov was ahead on points when Rogen Ladon of the Philippines was stopped because of a cut in the second round.
The unlucky Ladon, who had nursed his wound above the left eye through the quarter- and semi-finals, was examined by the ringside doctor who determined he could not continue and Latipov took it 3-1, with one card level.
Philippines boxing chief Ed Picson claimed Ladon had been “short-changed” because three of the judges had awarded Latipov the first round. “You tell me, who won that round? Ladon won that round, no doubt,” Picson told AFP.
The next final also ended unsatisfactorily on a cut with Uzbekistan’s Mirazizbek Mirzakhalilov winning bantamweight gold by the narrowest possible score, 1-0, after North Korea’s Jo Hyo Nam was ruled unfit to continue in the second round.
Cuts caused by accidental head clashes have been a constant problem since the International Boxing Association (AIBA) dispensed with head protection in bouts four years ago.
“We have no plans to reintroduce head guards,” AIBA executive director Tom Virgets told AFP when asked what could be done to reduce instances of cuts.
Three fighters lost semifinals on walkovers in Jakarta because of wounds sustained in earlier bouts.
“We are looking at other measures, such as substances that can be applied to the skin to stop abrasion wounds,” Virgets added.
The Uzbek gold march was halted, temporarily, when Mongolia’s Erdenebat Tsendbaatar earned lightweight gold on a 3-2 split decision over Shunkor Abdurasulov.
But with Uzbek International Boxing Association president Gafur Rakhimov ringside, Ikboljon Khodarov repeated his 2017 Asian Championship light welterweight final win over Mongolia’s Chinzorig Baatarsukh on a unanimous 5-0 decision.
Uzbekistan’s Bobo Usmon Baturov (welterweight) and Israil Madrimov (middleweight) rounded off their five-gold haul.