Tokyo Olympics: Tough overall draw for Indian boxers
Top seed and world no.1 Amit Panghal (52kg) was among four Indian boxers who got byes into the Olympic Games pre-quarterfinals as the country's pugilists geared up for a tough campaign going by the draws unveiled in Tokyo on Thursday. An unprecedented nine Indian boxers would be vying for medals at the showpiece, where none could secure a podium finish in the 2016 edition.
Panghal will step into the ring on July 31 in the last-16-stage against the winner of the contest between Botswana's Mahommed Rajab Otukile and Colombia's Yuberjen Herney Rivas Martinez.
Martinez was the light flyweight silver-medallist at the Rio Games. The 25-year-old Asian Games champion Indian, who is expected to advance, might find China's Hu Jianguan, the 2016 Olympics bronze-medallist, as a possible quarterfinal opponent.
In the women's competition, six-time world champion MC Mary Kom (51kg) will square off against Dominica's Miguelina Hernandez on July 25 and up next for her would be Colombian third seed Ingrit Lorena Victoria Valencia as she pursues a second Olympic medal. Valencia is the 2016 Olympic bronze-medallist and also the Pan American Games champion.
Also getting a bye was former Asian Games bronze-medallist Satish Kumar (+91kg), who is the first super heavyweight from India to make the Olympic cut. He will face Jamaica's Ricardo Brown in the pre-quarters and if he wins, the Armyman will run into top seed Bakhodir Jalolov of Uzbekistan.
Jalolov is the reigning world champion besides being a three-time Asian champion. Debutant Ashish Chaudhary (75kg), who has been an Asian silver-medallist, will be up against China's Erbieke Touheta in his Games opener.
The winner meets Brazilian third seed Hebert Sousa in the pre-quarters. Sousa was a bronze-medallist at the 2019 world championships. Commonwealth Games silver-medallist Manish Kaushik (63kg), also making his Games debut, has Britain's European silver-medallist Luke McCormack to contend with in the opener.
If he wins, third seed Cuban Andy Cruz awaits him in the last-16 stage. Cruz is the reigning world and Pan American champion. Another fancied Indian Vikas Krishan (69kg) will take on Japan's Mensah Okazawa in the round of 32 on Saturday and if he crosses this hurdle, he will be fighting Cuba's third-seeded Roniel Iglesias.
Iglesias is the 2012 Olympic gold-medallist and also a former world champion. In the women's draw, Pooja Rani (75kg) will take on Algeria's Ichrak Chaib, in her opening bout and will be up against China's second seed Li Qian if she progresses.
Qian is the reigning Asian champion and the 2018 edition world champion. Lovlina Borgohain (69kg) got a bye and will face Germany's Nadine Apetz in her opening clash. Simranjit Kaur (60kg) also got a bye and has Thailand's Sudaporn Seesondee awaiting her in the pre-quarters. The trio of Simranjit, Lovlina and Pooja are making their Olympic debut among women.
The United States has won a record 50 Olympic gold medals in boxing and a record 114 medals in total (men's and women's events). Cuba has won 37 Olympic gold medals in boxing, 26 more than in any other sport. Kazakhstan won at least one boxing gold medal in each of the past six Olympic Games. At the Rio Olympic Games in 2016, Uzbekistan took home seven medals in boxing, more than any other country, three of them being gold, to finish joint highest alongside Cuba.
A total of 289 boxers from 81 countries will be fighting it out at the Games this time.