With last edition’s bronze-medallist Vijender Singh and the experienced Akhil Kumar leading the charge, Indian boxers will look to secure Olympic berths besides fetching medals against a strong field in the World Championships starting in Baku, Azerbaijan tomorrow.
With more than 650 boxers from 120 countries in fray, it is one of the biggest World Championships, from where the first batch of Olympic qualifiers would be known.
The top-10 in eight weight categories (from light fly weight 49kg to the light heavy weight 81kg division) will qualify for next year’s London Games while in the heavyweight and super heavyweight, the top-six will book their Olympic berths.
India’s campaign will be opened by 19-year-old rookie L Devendro Singh (49kg), who will make his senior international debut tomorrow.
India has fielded a strong team in the event, in which Vijender’s middle weight bronze (75kg) in the 2009 edition in Milan was the country’s best performance.
Vijender, who is coming off a gold medal at the World Police Games last month, would once again be the star of India’s campaign but there are others to watch out for as well.
Suranjoy Singh (52kg) would be among the ones to watch out for. The diminutive Manipuri, fondly called ‘Chhota Tyson’, would be expected to not just book an Olympic berth but also fetch a medal.
Suranjoy, a Commonwealth Games gold-medallist, has been in red hot form for the past couple of years and would be aiming to carry on with that in Baku as well.
For the experienced Akhil (56kg), it would be about regaining lost ground.
The experienced boxer has been battling injuries and poor form for quite some while and he would look to set the record straight with a solid performance in the mega event which might make or break his career from here on.
Commonwealth Games gold-medallist Manoj and Commonwealth Games bronze-medallist Jai Bhagwan would be India’s contenders in the 64kg and 60kg categories respectively.
Asian Games silver-medallist Dinesh Kumar (81kg), who was a quarterfinalist at the event’s previous edition, would be aiming to go a step further this time and fetch a medal.
Asian Games silver-medallist Manpreet Singh (91kg) and Commonwealth Games gold-medallist Paramjeet Samota (+91kg) would be trying to improve upon India’s otherwise lackluster record in the heavier divisions.