Indian boxer Amit Panghal lost 4-1 to Colombia’s Yuberjen Herney Martinez Rivas in the men’s flyweight (52kg) round of 16 at the Tokyo Olympics on Saturday, bringing his debut Games to an early end.
Currently World No 1 in the men’s flyweight category, Panghal was one of the boxers in the Indian contingent who was expected to do well in Tokyo, despite a draw stacked with multiple opponents who had beaten him in the past.
Panghal, who received a bye in the first round (round of 32), began somewhat faster and better than he has typically done in the past. It showed in the scores as he won the first round against Rio silver medallist Martinez Rivas, with four out of the five judges scoring in his favour.
However, Martinez Rivas’ bodywork began to take its toll on Panghal, and the Indian’s level dipped and he looked visibly tired in the next two rounds. The second round went the way of Martinez Rivas, with four of the five judges scoring in his favour. The third round was dominated by the Colombian, with all five judges awarding him 10 points each, as compared to a total of 44 for Panghal in that round. The final score was 4-1 to the Colombian.
The early exit marks a disappointing end to a maiden Olympics for Panghal, who was born into an agricultural family and followed his older brother into the sport and trained under state-level coach Anil Dhankar. He began boxing as an underweight 12-year-old, weighing just 24 kg. In 2017, Panghal won his first gold at the senior level in the National Championships and brought home the country’s first Asian Games gold in the 49 kg category in 2018. Panghal became the first Indian male boxer to win a World Championship silver medal in 2019. In the 52 kg final, he lost to Olympic champion Shakhoboidin Zoirov of Uzbekistan. Panghal is only the second Indian male boxer to touch the No. 1 spot since Vijender Singh did so in the middleweight category in 2009.
Earlier on Friday, Lovlina Borgohain assured India of its first boxing medal, and second overall, at the Tokyo Games after she won her women’s welterweight quarterfinals against Chen Nien-Chin of Chinese Taipei. Lovlina, the current World No. 3, will win at least bronze and will take on Turkey’s Busenaz Surmeneli, the reigning World Champion and current World No. 1, in the semifinals on August 4 for a chance to box for gold.