Shiva Thapa (60kg) had to settle for silver after an injury-forced loss in the final of the Asian Boxing Championships in Tashkent on Saturday. Up against the local favourite Elnur Abduraimov, he lost in a split verdict after a head-butt from his opponent resulted in a cut. It happened in the final few seconds, thus forcing a stoppage by the referee.
Shiva, however, became the first Indian to claim three back-to-back medals at the event. He won a gold in 2013 and a bronze in the 2015 editions. "I am happy to have achieved the twin targets of a medal as well as qualification for the World Championships. This is my first international medal in lightweight and I always had the self-belief that I could achieve it," Shiva said.
The World Championships bronze-medallist in bantamweight (56kg), shifted to lightweight in December last year. He went on to win a gold medal at the National Championships before a couple of early losses in tournaments in Bulgaria and Thailand. "It was a big decision and I am glad I have managed to prove myself. I was very clear that I wanted to compete in lightweight and even though it didn't go quite well in a couple of tournaments, I knew I could do it," he said.
The 23-year-old defeated Olympic bronze-medallist, Asian Games gold-medallist and top seed Dorjnyambuu Otgondalai of Mongolia in the semifinal on Friday, during which he also sustained a cut above his eye.
There was also some disappointment for India with Gaurav Bidhuri (56kg) losing his box-off for a World Championship slot to Japan's Ryomei Tanaka in a split verdict. The World Championships are due to be held in August-September and the top six boxers from each weight category will qualify for the mega-event in Germany.
(With PTI inputs)