Tashkent: Putting on a commanding display, Narender Berwal registered a stellar victory and advanced to the quarter-finals of the IBA Men’s World Boxing Championships 2023 while Govind Sahani and Deepak Kumar entered the pre-quarters to ensure India dominated proceedings in Tashkent, Uzbekistan on Thursday.
With a quarter-final finish at the previous World Championships under his belt, Narender (+92kg) began his quest for a medal at the ongoing edition by defeating Muhammad Abroridinov of Tajikistan in a closely contested encounter by 4-1. Both pugilists who won bronze at the 2022 Asian Championships went all out in the neck-and-neck bout from the word go.
Narender landed powerful punches and dodged his opponent’s attacks from close range to have the upper hand in the first round. In spite of a stern fight put up by Abroridinov, the Hisar-born pugilist continued to attack on the front foot in the next two rounds and prevailed in the bout. He will face the 2021 World Youth Championships bronze medallist Fernando Arzola of Cuba in the quarter-finals.
Earlier in the day, the 2022 Thailand Open champion Govind (48kg) and 2019 Asian silver medallist Deepak (51kg) kicked off their respective campaigns with identical victories.
Govind, who has had an outstanding year so far with a gold at the Nationals Championships and a silver at the 74th Strandja Memorial, continued his rich vein of form as he made lightwork of Mehron Shafiev of Tajikistan to secure a 5-0 win.
Deepak, on the other hand, was also at his attacking best as he ousted Luis Delgado of Ecuador with his supreme technical ability to seal an emphatic victory by unanimous decision.
Following their victories, Govind will face the top-seeded Sakhil Alakhverdovi of Georgia who won bronze at the last World Championships while Deepak will take on the Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist and reigning World Champion Saken Bibossinov of Kazakhstan.
Later tonight, the record six-time Asian medallist Shiva Thapa (63.5kg) will take to the ring for his tournament opener against Dos Reis Yuri of Brazil.
On Friday, two-time Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Mohammad Hussamuddin, Tokyo Olympian Ashish Chaudhary, and Naveen Kumar will all be in pre-quarters action.
Hussamuddin (57kg) will go head to head against Lyu Ping of China while Ashish (80kg) will face a tough challenge against the two-time Olympic gold medallist Arlen Lopez of Cuba. Naveen (92kg) will take on Jeong Jae-min of South Korea.
The ongoing tournament is witnessing the participation of 538 boxers, including several Olympic medallists, from 107 countries.