New Delhi: Squaring off against a reigning world champion in career`s maiden senior international boxing event can be unnerving but Indian teen sensation Shiva Thapa did not just beat the nerves, he outpunched his older and much-established rival as well.
The 17-year-old from Assam was the youngest in the bantam weight (56kg) draw of the Winners Invitational Tournament in Belgrade, Serbia where India had been invited for the very first time. The country`s boxers did reasonably well signing off with a couple of gold and a bronze medal.
Commonwealth Games gold-medallist and Asian Games bronze-winner Paramjeet Samota (+91kg) expectedly got a gold, while Asian silver-medallist Manpreet Singh (91kg) settled for a bronze in the event.
Shiva beat Bulgaria`s Detelin Dalakliev, the world champion from the 2009 Milan edition, despite trailing by a couple of points in the first two rounds.
"I didn`t even know I was fighting a world champion. The coaches didn`t tell me before the bout. It was only after I beat him that one of the coaches came running to me to say that `Shiva you beat a world champion`," Shiva, who is for now
supported by the Olympic Gold Quest, said after arriving in the country with the rest of the team.
Shiva, who had done well for himself in the youth events, winning a silver in the world championships and a bronze in the inaugural Youth Olympics, was the youngest in the Indian team that participated in the event.
But boxing at the senior level was altogether a different ball game as he faced rivals much stronger and even taller than him.
"But stamina is also something, being young means more stamina, better reflexes. Besides, I don`t get intimidated, never really care about my opponents` reputations. It never helps to go into the ring with nerves. I only focus on my strengths and weaknesses," said the teen.
"In this event too, I just wanted to give my best and the rest just fell in place," Shiva added.
The transition from youth to senior level has been seemingly smooth for him but Shiva said he had to do a lot of mental preparation.
He also said that he is gearing up to present himself as a strong contender for next year`s London Olympics.
"The Youth Olympics changed my mindset because I beat boxers from traditional powerhouses such as Cuba. After making the jump to the senior level, I haven`t found it too hard. Obviously, the competition gets tougher but even I have become a tougher boxer now," Shiva said.