Star Indian boxer Amit Panghal (52kg) advanced to the quarterfinals with a hard-earned triumph over Mongolia's Enkhmanadakh Kharkhuu in the Asian Qualifiers to be just one win away from securing an Olympic berth, in Amman on Saturday. The 23-year-old top seed, who became India's first silver-medallist at the world championships last year, prevailed in a split 3-2 decision after a fast-paced slugfest in which fortunes swung quite wildly. Panghal will next face a familiar foe in Philippine's Carlo Paalam -- the man he beat in the semifinals of the 2018 Asian Games and the quarterfinals of the 2019 world championships.
The reigning Asian Games and Asian champion had to dig deep to edge past an aggressive and energetic Kharhuu.
Panghal was expectedly quick on his feet, displayed a terrific counter-attacking game and his left hand proved to be especially effective in the first two rounds.
However, the Mongolian sustained the pressure in the final three minutes in which Panghal seemed a bit off-colour.
But he managed just enough to pull through and fetch a divided verdict, avenging his loss to the Mongolian in the World Military Games last year.
In another intense pre-quarterfinal bout, Commonwealth Games silver-medallist Gaurav Solanki (57kg) was beaten 1-4 by top-seeded Uzbek Mirazizbek Mirzakhalilov.
Mirzakhalilov, the reigning world champion besides being a gold-winner at the Asian Games and the Asian Championships, dominated the opening round.
He was bested by the Indian in the second before roaring back to claim the final round honours and with it, the bout.
In the evening session, London Olympics bronze-medallist M C Mary Kom (51kg) will begin her campaign for a Tokyo Olympics berth by taking on New Zealand's Tasmyn Benny in the second round.
The second-seeded Indian had received an opening-round bye.