Wild card Gaurav Bidhuri today became only the fourth Indian boxer ever to secure himself a medal at the World Championships after defeating Tunisia’s Bilel Mhamdi to enter the semifinals of the mega-event here.
Gaurav, who hadn’t even qualified for the tournament in the to start with, got defeated in the Asian Championships quarterfinal stage, Gaurav had also gone on to lose the box-off for a world championship spot.
It was a stroke of good luck that he ended up being handed the wildcard that was originally meant for Bhutan. The Asian Boxing Confederation (ASBC) gave the lucky entry to Gaurav after Bhutan declined the offer.
Gaurav prevailed in a split decision in the bantamweight (56kg) quarterfinal contest to make the last-four stage, becoming only the second from the country to do so in his debut world championship. The only other Indian to have achieved the feat was Vikas Krishan, in the 2011 edition.
It went from bad to worse for Mhamdi after he ended up getting a warning for failing to keep his head up in the second round.
The Tunisian, despite his bloodied face, upped the ante in the final three minutes and delivered some good right hooks but Gaurav had done enough by then to seal the issue in his favour.