India's Amit Panghal won silver at the World Boxing Championships after losing to Uzbekistan's Shakhobidin Zoirov in the final of the flyweight (52kg category) in Ekaterinburg, Russia on Saturday. Panghal is the first Indian male to win a silver at the tournament.
Reigning Olympic flyweight champion Zoirov won the bout by a 5-0 decision. The final, however, was closer than the scoreline suggested, with the judges scoring the bout 30-27, 30-27, 29-28, 29-28, 29-28 in the Uzbek's favour.
Panghal, who at 5'2" is the shortest in his division, used his trademark speed to try and counter the advantages of his taller opponent from the start. He danced forward and back as he tried to invite his opponent into attacking and presenting him with an opening.
Panghal let down his guard toward the middle of the round, allowing Zoirov to come after him, before reverting to protecting himself.
Much of the same pattern played out over the next two rounds as the two managed to land a few blows each.
In the semi-final, the reigning Asian Games gold medallist Panghal defeated Kazakhstan's Saken Bibossinov 3-2.The second-seeded Panghal, who also won silver at last year's Commonwealth Games, won by a split verdict as the Kazakh managed to give him a tough fight throughout.
Panghal first shot to prominence when he claimed a 49kg bronze in the 2017 Asian Championships. He made the quarterfinals in the last edition of the World Championships, losing a fiercely contested bout to the then defending champion Hasanboy Dusmatov in the 49kg category. Panghal shifted to a higher weight category earlier this year after the 49kg category was scrapped from the Olympics.
On Friday, India's Manish Kaushik finished with a bronze medal after losing 5-0 to top-seeded Andy Cruz Gomez in the 63 kg semi-final.
This is the first time India have won two medals in the same edition of the tournament, making it their best-ever performance. India had never won more than one bronze medal prior to this edition of the World Championships. Their previous medals -- all bronze -- were won by Vijender Singh (2009), Vikas Krishan (2011), Shiva Thapa (2015) and Gaurav Bidhuri (2017).