India are assured of an unprecedented two medals at the Men's World Boxing Championships, after Amit Panghal (52kg) and Manish Kaushik (63kg) entered the semifinals in their respective categories in Ekaterinburg, Russia on Wednesday.
While Asian Games gold-medallist Amit Panghal (52kg) defeated Filipino Carlo Paalam 4-1, Commonwealth Games silver-medallist Manish Kaushik (63kg) defeated Brazil's Wanderson de Oliveira 5-0. With both boxers getting their maiden Worlds medals, this is now India's best medal tally in the tournament.
The second-seeded Panghal, who had defeated Paalam in the Asian Games semifinals last year, wasn't off to a great start and was trailing Paalam at the end of the opening round. But the Indian grew more aggressive in the next two rounds to make a comeback.
"I started slow but I think I dominated the second and third rounds. I was told by my coaches to be aggressive and I tried to be that. I had fought against him earlier so that gave me a fair idea of his gameplan as well," Panghal said after the bout.
In the semifinal, Amit will face Kazakhstan's Saken Bibossinov, who stunned Armenia's European gold-medallist and sixth seed Artur Hovhannisyan in the quarterfinal.
"He is a southpaw and has a long reach, I will work out a strategy for him," the 23-year-old Amit said.
The Indian was a quarterfinalist in the last edition of the World Championship, losing a fiercely-contested bout to the then defending champion Hasanboy Dusmatov in the 49kg category.
Kaushik, a former national champion, produced a composed performance against a flamboyant rival, who also paid for a very poor defence. Next up for Kaushik is Cuban top seed Andy Gomez Cruz, who beat Russia's eighth-seeded Ilia Popov. Cruz was the light welterweight (64kg) category gold-medallist in the 2017 edition and is also a two-time Pan American Games gold-winner.
Meanwhile, Sanjeet (91kg) missed out on a medal after losing to No.7 seed Julio Cesar Castillo of Ecuador in the quarterfinal.
India have never won more than one bronze medal in a single edition of the World Championship. The overall medal count for the country stands at four bronze medals, claimed by Vijender Singh (2009), Vikas Krishan (2011), Shiva Thapa (2015) and Gaurav Bidhuri (2017).