Fourth seed Shiva Thapa (60kg) settled for a silver medal at the Asian Boxing Championships after an injury-forced loss in the final at Tashkent, Uzbekistan on Saturday, becoming the first Indian to claim three back-to-back medals at the continental showpiece.
Shiva, up against second seed and local favourite Elnur Abduraimov, lost in a split verdict after a head-butt from his opponent resulted in a cut.
It was in the final few seconds of the opening round when Shiva sustained the cut, forcing a stoppage by the referee.
The disappointment of missing out on the gold aside, the silver is his third successive medal at the continental showpiece after a gold in 2013 and a bronze in the 2015 edition.
“I am happy to have achieved the twin targets of a medal as well as qualification for the World Championships. This is my first international medal in lightweight and I always had the self-belief that I could achieve it,” Shiva was quoted as saying by PTI.
The Assam-pugilist, a World Championships bronze- medallist in bantamweight (56kg), shifted to lightweight in December last year. He went on to win a gold medal at the National Championships before a couple of early losses in tournaments in Bulgaria and Thailand.
“It was a big decision and I am glad I have managed to prove myself. I was very clear that I wanted to compete in lightweight and even though it didn’t go quite well in a couple of tournaments, I knew I could do it,” he said.
The 23-year-old defeated Olympic bronze-medallist, Asian Games gold-medallist and top seed Dorjnyambuu Otgondalai of Mongolia in the semifinal on Friday, during which he also sustained a cut above his eye.
“Obviously when you are competing against an established name, a few things play on your mind but then once you enter the ring, you have to block it out,” he said.
There was also some disappointment for India with Gaurav Bidhuri (56kg) and Manish Panwar (81kg) losing their box-off bouts for World Championship slots.
While Gaurav lost to Japan’s Ryomei Tanaka, Manish went down to Pakistan’s Awais Ali Khan. Both the boxers were defeated in a split verdict.
The World Championships are due to be held in August- September and the top six boxers from each weight category will qualify for the mega-event in Germany.