In an exciting duel between two World championship medallists, Shiva Thapa got the better of Manish Kaushik in a 63.5kg semifinal bout in the National boxing championships on the Chaudhary Charan Singh Haryana Agricultural University campus here on Thursday.
Fighting in extremely cold conditions, Thapa, a six-time Asian medallist, showed his class to secure a 5-0 win and set up a title clash with Asian youth medallist Ankit Narwal.
In the much-anticipated match featuring two archrivals who made comebacks after recovering from injuries, Shiva banked on his exemplary work ethic and superb fitness to outsmart Manish.
Shiva, who had suffered a knee injury in the Asian championships final in November, employed his agile feet to move in and out of Manish’s grasp and used his fast hands to land accurate combinations.
Manish, who has recovered from a back injury, launched a few good counters, but Shiva increased the volume of his punches in the third round to take the bout.
In a friendly gesture, the seasoned Shiva, who had emerged victorious when the two last met at the Commonwealth Games trials, enquired about Manish’s well-being when they shook hands.
“It’s tougher when you know each other so well. You need to be one step ahead of your opponent,” said Shiva.
Twenty-year-old Abinash Jamwal fought from a long range with a big heart to shock Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Rohit Tokas 4-3 following a review of the bout. Rohit was ahead 3-2 on the judges’ cards but lost after the evaluators gave their decisions.