New Delhi :Australia's pull-out has taken some sheen off the sixth Commonwealth Boxing Championship here but the March 10-18 event would still present a massive challenge for Indian pugilists as they brace up to square off against glovesmen from 13 nations.
Close to 120 boxers are expected to participate in the event at the Talkatora Indoor Stadium, which is still undergoing renovation for the Commonwealth Games in October.
"The stadium would be ready. Even if it is not ready completely, the part that we need, which is the arena and the lounge area for boxers and officials, would be ready," Indian Boxing Federation secretary general P K Muralidharan Raja told reporters here on Thursday.
The championships were postponed last year due to the non-completion of the construction work at the venue.
India, which won a gold, two silver and six bronze medals in the fifth edition, will host boxers from England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, South Africa, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Mauritius, Kenya, Samoa and Singapore.
The IBF is still awaiting confirmation from Canada while Australia has turned down the invitation citing previous commitments.
"Australia regretted not being able to participate due to prior commitments and didn't specify anything else. We are awaiting confirmation from Canada and hopefully it will come soon," Raja said.
"All the remaining top Commonwealth nations are coming. So, we expect a tough competition," he added.
The event will be the first to feature boxers in the new weight categories announced last year. The AIBA reshuffled the divisions to abolish featherweight (57kg) and increase the bantam weight from 54kg to 56kg.
2005 Commonwealth Championship and the 2006 Commonwealth Games gold medallist Akhil Kumar, also an Olympian, said India can look forward to best-ever results in the event this time.
"The team has not yet been selected but I can tell you, the results are going to be excellent. All the boxers have trained very hard and we will get a good haul of medals," he said.
The Indian team for the event would be selected on the basis of the boxers' performance in this month's Super Cup and the trials to be held a couple of weeks ahead of the Championships.
"The Super Cup would allow us to identify upcoming names and during the trials, those who do not participate in Super Cup will get their chance to prove their worth," Raja said.