When Deepak Bhoria, Mohammad Hussamudin, and Nishant Dev walk inside the ring against difficult opponents in search of summit places in the men's boxing World Championships on Friday, India will be looking to improve their best-ever performance.
The fact that all three medals were won in Olympic-level competition bodes well for India going into the Asian Games, the first Olympic qualification competition.
The three fighters have already written history in that regard since India has never had three semifinalists at the premier amateur boxing competition.
Amit Panghal became the first male boxer from India to compete in the final in 2019, which was a huge breakthrough for the sport in the nation. Deepak, Hussmudin, and Nishant now have the potential to advance the sport.
However, the process is simpler said than done. They all face challenging opposition on the way to the final.
Two-time World Championship medalist Bilala Bennama stands in Deepak's (51 kg) path. The 2022 European champion Frenchman will be keen to alter the color of his two bronze medals.
While Serik Temirzhanov of Kazakhstan, the top seed and silver medalist at the World and Asian Championships, will face Cuba's Hussamuddin (57 kg) in the semifinals.
Aslanbek Shymbergenov of Kazakhstan, the silver medalist at the 2018 Asian Games, will compete against Nishant (71 kg) in 2022.
Deepak has the opportunity to either match or top the silver medal performance of former world number one Panghal, who has long been the favorite in this weight division.
At the Asian Championships in 2019, Deepak won his first significant medal, a silver. In 2021, he came in second place in the famous Strandja Memorial competition.
After winning the 2021 and 2023 Nationals, the 25-year-old was chosen for the Indian team ahead of Panghal for this competition based on the revised selection criterion. He has paid back the trust that Dmitry Dmitruk, his coach, and new High Performance Director Bernard Dunne placed in him.
In this competition, Deepak has won over everyone because to his deadly left hook. By defeating Kazakhstan's Saken Bibossinov, who won the bronze medal in the Tokyo Olympics, he pulled off one of the greatest shocks of the competition.
Hussamudin from Nizamabad had to wait a long time to participate in the Worlds, but as the saying goes, “the longer the wait, the sweeter the fruit,” the 29-year-old won a medal in his first race.
One of the more seasoned competitors on the team, the two-time bronze medalist from the Commonwealth Games will rely on Horta in the battle of the rookies.
Nishant made a big splash a few years back when he advanced to the 2021 Worlds quarterfinals. He had almost missed out on a medal back then, but he made up for it.
The determined pugilists would strive to modify the shade if they had a bronze in their pocket.
India has never before won more than a silver and a bronze medal in a single men's world championships competition.
Panghal 2019 took home the nation's only silver medal prior to the current competition, while Vijender Singh (2009), Vikas Krishan (2011), Shiva Thapa (2015), Gaurav Bidhuri (2017), Manish Kausik (2019), and Akash Kumar (2021) each earned six bronze medals.