2021 AIBA Men’s World Boxing Championships: Akash aims for a spot in final, takes on Kazakh boxer in semis

Akash Kumar will be looking to continue his stellar show and enter the final at the 2021 AIBA Men’s World Championships when he collides with Kazakhstan’s Makhmud Sabyrkhan.

Akash Kumar during his quarter-final at the 2021 Men's World Boxing Championships in Belgrade, Serbia. (Image Credit: Twitter)

Having already secured India’s seventh medal in the history of the tournament, Akash Kumar will be looking to continue his stellar show and enter the final at the 2021 AIBA Men’s World Championships, when he collides with Kazakhstan’s Makhmud Sabyrkhan in the 54kg semi-final in Belgrade, Serbia on Thursday. The 21-year-old boxer, who hails from Bhiwani, made his way into the semi-finals after causing one of the major upsets in the 21st edition of the tournament, when he handed a crushing 5-0 defeat to the Rio Olympics silver medallist and strong medal contender Yoel Finol from Venezuela.

On the other hand, the 20-year-old young Kazakh star Sabyrkhan sealed his spot in the semi-finals after outclassing Brazil’s first quarter-finalist at the Championships, Michael Trinidade. With a place in the semi-finals, debutant Akash joined an elite list of medal-winning Indian pugilists at one of the world’s biggest boxing events. Amit Panghal (silver in 2019), Vijender Singh (bronze in 2009), Vikas Krishan (bronze in 2011), Shiva Thapa (bronze in 2015), Gaurav Bidhuri (bronze in 2017) and Manish Kaushik (bronze in 2019) have won medals for the country at the Men’s World Championships in the past.

End of campaigns for four other Indian boxers

While Akash made his way into the Last-4 stage, four other Indian boxers—Sanjeet, Narender Berwal, Shiva Thapa and Nishant Dev, ended their campaigns after suffering losses in their respective quarter-finals bout played late on Tuesday night. The seasoned boxer Shiva Thapa went down to Turkey’s Kerem Oezmen by a unanimous margin in the 63.5kg Last-8 match, while it was yet another quarter-final heartbreak for the reigning Asian champion Sanjeet. The Indian conceded a 0-5 loss against Italy’s Aziz Abbes Mouhiidine after suffering a biceps injury in the first round during the 92kg contest. In the last edition of the championships in 2019 as well, Sanjeet had exited in the quarter-finals stage.

Narender (+92kg) and Nishant (71kg) also lost to Azerbaijan’s Mahammad Abdullayev and Russia’s Vadim Musaev respectively in their quarter-finals. The ongoing prestigious event has been witnessing thrilling action between 650 top boxers from more than 100 participating countries from across the world.

The gold medallists of each category will receive $100,000 while silver and bronze medallists will be given $50,000 and $25,000 respectively. Alongside an enormous prize pool of $2.6 million, AIBA will also award the winners with beautifully designed medals, made of solid gold and silver respectively, and belts to commemorate their accomplishments.

Akash Kumar stuns Olympic Silver Medallist Yoel Finol and confirms India’s first medal

Demonstrating exemplary courage and tactical nous during the right moments, Akash Kumar (54kg) stunned Rio Olympic silver medallist Yoel Finol of Venezuela in the quarter-final to confirm India’s first medal at AIBA Men’s Boxing World Championships in Belgrade, Serbia on Tuesday. Akash (21), who hails from Bhiwani, started fearlessly and dominated throughout the bout. With nimble footwork, long reach, accurate punching and terrific speed, he counter-attacked relentlessly in the initial rounds.

His opponent tried to assert himself in the final round, but Akash stayed out of his range, evaded punches, and moved around the ring confidently.

“Our strategy was to be on an attacking mode to win the first round, and then in the next rounds, the aim was to counter-attack and keep the flurry of punches,” Akash said.

Dedicating the win to his mother, who died before the Championships began, and to his father, who passed away in 2010, he said, “This medal means the world to me. I want to dedicate it to my parents. This is my first big tournament and I am extremely proud and emotional. I want to give absolutely everything to bring home the gold medal. I want to thank all my coaches and support staff who have helped me reach here.”

Sportslumo Desk

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