On home turf, Indian Tigers eye turnaround in WSB fortunes
New Delhi, Mar 23 (PTI) India would be aiming to end their losing streak but the task is easier said than done despite the home advantage as they take on defending champions Astana Arlans of Kazakhstan in a World Series of Boxing (WSB) contest in Rohtak tomorrow.
The Indian franchise, called the Indian Tigers, lost to Astana Arlans 1-4 in its lung-opener before going down by the same margin to Russia's Patriot Boxing Team. Both the rubbers were away contests and creditable of Kavinder Bisht (52kg) and Sachin Siwach (49kg) to pull off one win each respectively for the team.
The Indians would be hoping to make the home advantage count at the National Boxing Academy but pulling off victories would nonetheless be a tall ask against a very strong Kazakh team, whose manager happens to be 2004 Olympic champion and the celebrated Bakhtiyar Artayev.
The Indian team comprises the likes of three-time King's Cup gold-medallist K Shyam Kumar (49kg) and India Open gold winner Sanjeet, who lost an evenly-contested debut WSB bout in the clash against Russia.
Shyam Kumar will be up against the biggest name in the Kazakh team Temirtas Zhussupov (49kg), the 2013 Asian champion who hasn't lost a WSB bout since June last year.
It will be India's first home rubber since returning to the WSB fold earlier this year.
"A bout against Kazakhstan is never easy but you cannot let that affect your morale. You have to give your best," India coach Jaydev Bisht said.
In the bantamweight 56kg category, Mohammed Etash Khan, who won a bronze medal at the Asian Games Test event in January, will square off against Nursultan Kochshegulov. Kochshegulov has a 2-1 record in his limited WSB appearances.
A WSB bout is of five rounds of three minutes each and the event serves as Olympic qualifier every four years.
The bouts are being held at Rohtak, instead of a big city like Delhi and Boxing Federation of India President Ajay Singh said it is part of the BFI's expansion plan for the sport.
"The objective is to take boxing to small towns of India. We don't have enough international events there, that's why it was decided to take WSB to Rohtak," he said.
India's next two WSB engagements are also set to be at home, against Russia and China.
India: K Shyam Kumar (49kg), Mohammed Etash Khan (56kg), Dheeraj Rangi (64kg), Ashish Kumar (75kg), Sanjeet (91kg).
Temirtas Zhussupov (49kg), Nursultan Kochshegulov (56kg), Dilmurat Mizhitov (64kg), Abilkhair Turlanbekov (91kg)