|Indian youth boxers were resplendent in their performance in the quarter-finals of the AIBA Youth World Boxing Championship in Yerevan, Armenia. Out of the four boxers that made to the round of eight, three advanced into the semi-final stage of the championship. After 2012 Tammer International Tournament winner Lalitha Prasad (49kg) and bronze medallist at the 2010 International Invitational tournament in Kazakhstan Sandeep Sharma (75kg), it was two time Youth National Champion Narender Berwal (+91kg) who advanced to the semi-finals of the competition. Berwal assured himself of at least a bronze medal finish after shocking Russia's current Youth National Champion and European Junior Championships bronze medallist Ivan Kabatov in the quarters. Dheeraj Singh (52kg) though came agonisingly close to qualifying for the medal rounds, but ultimately had to be content with a quarter-final finish after losing out in the round of eight. This will be India’s best medal haul from the Championship in terms of numbers, but colour of the medals is yet to be determined. Coach G Manoharan though is very confident that this will be India’s best performance both in numbers as well as the colour. He said, “The boys have done really well, beating some tough opponents to make it to the semi-finals, the upcoming bouts will not be easy as well but I sure we will be able bag at least two gold medals and better 2010’s performance”. In the previous edition of the championship in 2010 India clinched one gold medal and one silver medal.
The quarter-final clash in the super heavy weight category was the last bout of the day, but Berwal made the wait worthwhile. Going up against a more experienced boxer, the 18 year old was by no means fazed with the achievements of his opponent. From the very beginning of the bout he started to put pressure on the Russian with his aggressive intent. Kabatov seemed completely out of sorts against the power play of the Indian boxer. Berwal quickly raced to a 7-2 lead with his quick fire counter jabs and combinations after the opening three minutes of play. Dominating the pace of the game he pressed on to increase the margin and made it a nine point game (14-5). By the end of the second round it was clear that the Indian was about to pull off an upset. He went on to beat Ivan with a margin of 10 points in the end (19-9). The Indian boxer's next opponent will be Germany's Florian Schulz who eliminated another favourite Yohandi Toirac of Cuba.
But Dheeraj Singh’s campaign at the Youth WC came to end at the hand of Cuban boxer Jorge Cordero. Cordero a Youth National Champion and a gold medallist at the Pavlyukov Youth Memorial Tournament in Russia, beat AIBA Junior World Champion Asror Vohidov of Tajikistan and Armenia's European Junior Championships silver medallist Henrik Mokoyan to set up the clash with Dheeraj. A silver medallist at the 2012 Tammer International Tournament, Singh was slow to get off the mark and Cordero took complete advantage of it. The sluggish start put the 18 year old on the back foot; soon he was down a 4 point deficit (1-5). The second round went to the Cuban as well (1-2). In the third, Singh tried hard to get back in the game and although he won the round (6-4) but was not able to catch up to Cordero. He lost on points (8-11). Manoharan who was extremely please with Narender’s result believed that Dheeraj was a bit unlucky not to have been awarded more points. He stated, “Narender gave a good account of his boxing skills; he was exceptional with his blocking and attacking play, plus his footwork was also very good. Dheeraj also fought well, unfortunately he lost. The score does not do justice to the way he tackled the Cuban boxer, also I thought he should have been awarded a few more points”.
Earlier in the tournament LP Prasad edged past Kosie Tanaka of Japan in what was a tactical fight to the finish. He now battles against Bin LV of China for a place in the finals of the fly weight category on Thursday (06 Dec’12). Sandeep overpowered Azizjon Mamatov of Uzbekistan in a one-sided affair to make his place in the last four of the middle weight division. The 17 year old Haryana lad now rivals European Youth Championships silver medallist Magomed Madyiev of Russia.