Boxer Neeraj stuns ex-world champion to enter final in Russia
New Delhi: Gold medallist in 2019 India Open Neeraj (57kg) on Friday stunned 2016 world champion Alessia Mesiano to enter the final of the Magomed Salam Umakhanov Memorial International boxing tournament in Kaspiysk, Russia.
Strandja Memorial bronze medallist Neeraj and Alessia had the crowd on their feet with their exceptional display of attacking boxing. Both the boxers refused to back down but Neeraj landed a series of clear punches in the final round to edge past the Italian boxer 3-2 to secure his berth in the final.
In another highly entertaining bout, 2019 India Open bronze medallist Gaurav played patiently in the beginning against his Russian opponent Maksim Chernyshev. In the last round, Gaurav increased the tempo as he landed a flurry of punches to earn a 3-2 split verdict in his favour. Govind Sahani, silver medallist in GeeBee Boxing earlier in the year, was up against Tajikistan's Shermukhammad Rustamov in his quarterfinal bout. Govind dominated the proceedings from the word go and showed great display of attacking prowess. He carried on with the onslaught throughout the match and the referee had to stop the contest in the third round. The young pugilist's attacking acumen was appreciated by all as he earned the first RSC win of the tournament.
However, Ashish Insha (52kg) couldn't make it to the semifinals as he lost his bout against Russia's Islamitdin Alisoltanov 1-4. The match was in the balance till the last round before Ashish conceded a few clear punches in the last minute which led to his defeat. 2018 India Open gold medallist Sanjeet had to forego his bout against Russia's Daniel Lutai after suffering a cut on his forehead in the first round of the match. In all, India are assured of 6 medals as 4 women and 2 men have reached the semi-finals.
The 21st edition of the tournament is seeing the participation of 220 boxers from 21 countries. The event will give the Indian boxers a good opportunity to hone their skills and test themselves as they approach the World Championships later in the year.