Wildcard entrant Gaurav Bidhuri's remarkable run at the World Boxing Championships ended with a bronze medal today after he lost his semifinal clash to American Duke Ragan here.
India thus ended the tournament with a bronze medal, equalling the performance of 2009 (Vijender Singh), 2011 (Vikas Krishan) and 2015 (Shiva Thapa).
Despite the loss, the 24-year-old from Delhi joined a rare club of world championship medallists from India - the past winners being Vijender, Vikas and Shiva.
"I am obviously a bit disappointed but I gave it my best shot. I don't think that it was as dominant a victory for Duke as the scoreline might suggest. I didn't expect him to fight so defensively but I adjusted through the bout," Gaurav told PTI after his loss.
In a bout fought primarily on defensive tactics, the 20-year-old American had the slight edge in the opening three minutes. Although both the boxers spent the better part of it waiting for the other to make the first attack, the grunting Ragan seemed more in control lunging forward.
Gaurav did well connect on counter-attack but the lack of upfront attack from own his side made a lot of difference to the final outcome.
The second round was fought on a more even keel and Gaurav managed to surprise his rival by cornering him on more than one ocassion. Both the boxers again went on the defensive in the final round But Ragan broke free with his cleanly-struck right hooks to clinch the issue. Ragan will now face England's Peter McGrail in the final on Saturday.
"It wasn't a very clean bout. I gave my best but probably it wasn't meant to be," said Gaurav.
India coach Santiago Nieva praised Gaurav's performance and felt he did his best.
"He adjusted to Duke's tactics quite well, he definitely won the second round but in the final round, the other guy was slightly better," he said.
Earlier, Amit Phangal (49kg) and Kavinder Bisht (56kg) had bowed out in the quarterfinal stage.
Gaurav, who has been battling a back niggle for the last eight months, thus completed a rollercoaster ride in a tournament he hadn't event qualified for to start with.
Ousted in the Asian Championships quarterfinal stage, Gaurav had also gone on to lose the box-off for a world championship spot.
It was a stroke of good luck that he ended up being handed the wildcard that was originally meant for Bhutan.
The Asian Boxing Confederation (ASBC) gave the lucky entry to Gaurav after Bhutan declined the offer.
However, he made the lucky break count by upstaging Ukraine's Mykola Butsenko in the prequarterfinal. Butsenko is a two-time European Championships' silver-medallist and the 2013 world championships' bronze-winner.
Among other results, Olympic champion Hasanboy Dusmatov (49kg), who had beaten India's Amit Phangal in the quarterfinals, entered the final after beating Colombia's
Yurberjen Rivas Martinez in a unanimous verdict.
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