Amandeep and Nanao on course for another title bout
The battle for the yellow metal in the light fly-weight division in the domestic circuit of the Indian boxing arena is a telling tale of a rivalry between two varied approaches – two different teams – two distinct individuals. And now at the LB stadium, Hyderabad in the 59th Sahara Men’s National Boxing Championship presented by Monnet Ispat and Energy Limited all indications are for new chapter to be added to the ongoing strife. Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Amandeep Singh of the Railways and 2009 Asian Championship gold medallist Nanao Singh of the Services team, seem on course to clash in the championship round, except for a defeat en route to the finals. Round three saw both the pugilists defeat their respective opponents with straightforward victories to march into the quarter-finals of the event. Nanao, who was the first to take to the ring, locked horns with Sumit Bansi of Goa. He started with his usual aggressive approach not allowing the Goan boxer to settle down; before the round was over Nanao had a six point advantage. He soon double the lead with a flurry of punches coupled with some nifty footwork. In the final three minutes of play as Nanao eased of the throttle, Bansi tried hard to get back in the game, but the 2008 Youth Commonwealth Champion danced around the canvas not allowing his opponents many scoring opportunities. In the end he made a place in the round of 8 with a 17-5 victory.
“It was a good fight, I played my natural game and at the same time tried to avoid any injuries as I have to play three more rounds to win the title and that’s what I am focusing on,” expressed the 21 year old, who now takes on Vinod Kumar of SPSB.
Singh on the other hand had to work a bit hard against Lal Chand Shaw of West Bengal, but in the end the veteran boxer came through in fine style. Shaw a belligerent and a bit of a scrappy fighter made it difficult for Singh to get inside and score points. But Amandeep’s in and out and side to side movement helped him do the damage efficiently. He led 3-1 in the first round and 3-2 in the second. The two time Asian Championship medal winner upped the ante in the final round and went on win the bout on points 10-4. In the quarters he will square up against Salman Anwar Shaikh of Maharashtra.
“The nationals have always been a demanding tournament, you have to be in your best physical state to make it to the championship round and it’s always is a little tricky fighting over-aggressive fighters; apart from scoring points your objective is not to get hurt. I did not fight as well as I would have liked to, but it worked out fine in the end,” stated Amandeep after his pre quarter-final bout.
Nanao and Amandeep who train together in the national camps are well aware of each other game and know that a final clash between them is very much on the cards. Although the two have sparred together and participated in selection trials a numerous times, in competition they have met only twice – at the 34th National Games and in the previous edition of the senior nationals. Unfortunately for Amandeep both contests have gone in favour of youth with Nanao being the victor. Although the services boxer has a big psychological advantage over Singh, he is not willing to take things lightly.
“Having beaten him (Amandeep) twice in the past is obviously an advantage, but if we meet in the final this time it will be a different day and a different tournament. We both have been training hard and will be looking to get one up on the other,” exclaimed the two time national champion. For Amandeep the elusive senior national title holds great significance and the two time national championship bronze medallist says this time he is all geared up to take the gold.
He stated, “I am in good shape and have been preparing for this event for long now. I have worked hard with my coaches to eliminate the mistakes and will look to set the record straight. It looks like the final will be Railways versus the Services affair and although Nanao has the statistical advantage I am confident of favourable result.”
In the fly weight division bronze medallist at the 2011 President’s Cup International Boxing Tournament, Gaurav Bidhuri continued his winning streak as he stormed past Anuj Pradhan of Sikkim before the close of the first round. Santosh Harijan of Goa toyed with Rahul Punia of Haryana before beating him on points 9-6. The 24 year old also got a warning for fooling around too much, but the caution received did not matter in the end. Chhote Lal Yadav of the services and V Durga Rao of Karnataka also powered through to the semi-finals of the bantam weight division with impressive victories over Surender Shajlan of Chandigarh and Pranit Kumbhar of Maharashtra respectively. Veteran boxer Dilbagh Singh of the Railways team had to dig deep against services boxer Amit Kakri. Eventually though, the experience of the multiple national champion came through and he won on points 20-18.