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Indian pugilists will be determined to overcome the recent setbacks both inside and outside the boxing ring when they aim for the last available tickets to the Olympic Games at the second World Qualification Tournament, starting on Friday. Up until the last qualifying event, Indian boxers had four quotas but in an unprecedented embarrassment, that number is now down to three after women’s 57kg holder Parveen Hooda was handed a 22-month ban for whereabouts failure this month. The boxers’ performance at the previous world qualifiers in March was dismal to say the least with only 2023 World Championship bronze medallist Nishant Dev moving past the opening round.

This also triggered a coaching crisis. High Performance Director Bernard Dunne handed his resignation during the first World qualifier itself.

“From the Thailand qualifiers, we definitely hope to clinch 4-5 quota places and we are hoping for the best. This time we have a definite chance,” Indian boxing coach CA Kuttappa told SAI Media ahead of event here.

The Boxing Federation of India (BFI) has made several changes with India’s lone male World Championship silver-medallist Amit Panghal finally back in the mix after Deepak Bhoria failed to win a quota in the first two qualifying events in the 51kg category.

Panghal is coming off a gold-winning run at the prestigious Strandja Memorial tournament earlier this year. He will have only one shot at making the Olympics and the former Asian Games champion will look to make the most of it.

Panghal has been seeded second in his category and is likely to have a quarterfinal face-off either with Liu Chuang of China or Anvarzhan Khodzhiev of Kyrgyzstan after receiving a first-round bye.

India have fielded a total of 10 boxers, seven men and three women, featuring among a total of 579 boxers from 133 countries participating in the Qualifying event which will see a total of 51 Olympic quotas up for grabs.

Abhinash Jamwal has been handed an opportunity to make the cut for his debut Olympics after the seasoned Shiva Thapa’s repeated failures in the 63.5kg weight class, which has five quotas on offer. Jamwal will open against Andriejus Lavrenovas of Lithuania.

Young boxer Abhimanyu Loura, who has replaced Lakshya Chahar, will try his luck in 80kg. He will have to make it to the top three to earn his maiden Olympic appearance. Loura will square off against Kristiyan Nikolov of Bulgaria in the opening round.

Nishant Dev missed sealing his berth in Italy by a whisker. He would be brimming with confidence. With five quotas on offer in 71kg, he is expected to return with a ticket to Paris.

Nishant will kick off his campaign against Amando Bighafa Naae of Guinea-Bissau. After clearing the opening round, the World Championship bronze medallist could be in for a tricky second round against the young talented Turkmenistan boxer, Bayramdurdy Nurmuhammedov.

Also in the fray is reigning National champion and Strandja Memorial gold medallist Sachin Siwach, who will take on New Zealand’s Alex Mukuka in the men’s 57kg weight category.

Sanjeet (92 kg) and Narender ( 92kg) have been handed byes in the opening round.

In women’s competition, Ankushita Boro, who competed in the 66kg event, has moved down to 60kg, pipping Jaismine Lamboriya in the assessment.

Ankushita, who will face Mongolia’s Namuun Monkhor in the opening bout, will have to finish in the top three to make the cut. She is likely to eventually face Uzbekistan’s Rashida Tagirova, who has also secured a first-round bye.

However, Jaismine who failed to book a berth during the earlier two qualifying events, has got a third shot albeit in the 57kg after Parveen was sanctioned. She has received a bye in the opening round and will face Mahasati Hamzayeva of Azerbaijan in the second round.

National champion Arundhati Choudhary (66kg), who has also got a bye, will be the third Indian female boxer in the fray.

She will face Stephanie Pineiro Aquino of Puerto Rico in the second round and may have to square off against Slovakia’s Jessica Tribelova in the quarters for a qualification spot.

With 188 boxers having already earned Olympic berths via the continental qualifiers and the world qualifiers, Indian boxers are expected to add to the tally of three quotas.

“Our boxers are in a good mental position now. The confidence from the sparring sessions has risen and psychologists are playing a key role to keep them away from pressure,” Kuttappa said.

The tournament has 51 quota places on offer, including 23 for women and 28 for men, and a boxer will be assured of a Paris ticket after reaching the semifinals.

India had an unprecedented nine boxers competing at the Tokyo Olympics, which yielded one medal — a bronze by Lovlina Borgohain.

Nikhat Zareen (50kg), Preeti Pawar (54kg) and Borgohain (75kg) secured their entry to Paris at the Asian Games last year.

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