Doha: Shiva Thapa on Saturday became only the third Indian boxer ever to assure himself of a World Championships medal besides inching closer to an Olympic berth as he advanced to the semifinals with a dominating triumph here.
Shiva (56kg) thrashed Qatar's Hakan Erseker 3-0 and is now just one win away from assuring himself of an Olympic quota place. Should he lose in the semifinals tomorrow, then the 21-year-old will have to win a box-off to fetch a ticket to next year's extravaganza in Rio de Janeiro.
By assuring himself of at least a bronze, Shiva joined Vijender Singh (2009) and Vikas Krishan (2011) as the third Indian to be a medallist at the showpiece event.
However, it was curtains for Vikas Krishan (75kg), who suffered an unexpected 0-3 loss to Egypt's Hosam Abdin despite a seemingly dominant performance.
Shiva was the first to take the ring and he came up with a clinical show to beat the local favourite via a unanimous decision.
Using his left hooks and jabs to telling effect, the Asian bronze-medallist threw caution to the wind after successfully intimidating his rival in the opening round. The busier of the two boxers when it came to mounting attacks, Shiva cut down on the intensity in the final three minutes but still managed to get the judges nod unanimously.
"He was bending a lot, holding a lot but I stayed focussed and tried to hit as many clean punches as possible.
The kind of tactics he was using, he was lucky not to have got a warning. I am assured of a medal now but the job is still not done and getting an Olympic quota place is my aim," Shiva told PTI after the bout.
"Today, I was clear about my strategy. Once I realised that he would not attack too much, I opened up my guard to bait him and counter-punched aggressively every time he fell into the trap," he added, analysing his bout.
Next up for the Assam boy is Uzbekistan's Murodjon Akhmadaliev, the 20-year-old sensation who upstaged him in the Asian Championships semifinal last month.
"It is going to be a tough bout but I will not be intimidated and do my best," Shiva said.
Next up was Vikas, a bronze-medallist from the 2011 edition, and he mysteriously ended up on the losing side despite being more attacking and clean in hitting. The judges ruled in favour of Abdin despite his evasive approach and lack of initiative in attack.
"We are very disappointed with this loss. We had thought that Vikas would make the finals," national coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu said.
Vikas said that he felt that he had done enough after the first and the second round.
"I think I landed some convincing punches. It felt like a very close fight. I believed that I was in contention in the first two rounds. In the third, I had to go all out. It is a disappointing result but I have to take this in my stride and aim to correct a few mistakes I made. I am confident that I will be qualifying for the Rio Olympics as there are a couple of qualifiers coming up," he said.