2023 Men's World Boxing Championships: Hussamuddin earns Worlds medal on debut, into semifinals

Mohammed Hussamuddin celebrates his quarterfinal victory over Javier Ibanez Diaz in the 57kg category of the 2023 Men's Boxing World Championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. IBA

Mohammed Hussamuddin earned his first-ever Worlds medal after defeating Cuban-born Bulgarian boxer, Javier Ibanez Diaz by a split decision (4-3 after bout review) in the 57 kg quarterfinals of the 2023 Men's Boxing World Championships. After Deepak's medal earlier, Hussamuddin became only the ninth-ever Indian to earn a medal at the Worlds, with Nishant becoming the tenth soon after.

The two-time Commonwealth Games bronze medallist from Nizamabad, Telangana squares off against Saidel Horta Rodriguez Del-Rey of Cuba in the semifinal, who stunned top-seed and 2021 Worlds silver medallist Serik Temirzhanov of Kazakhstan 5-0 in the quarterfinal.

Hussamuddin bounced into the arena in high spirits despite the perfunctory applause announcing his arrival, starting off from the blue corner. He began the aggressor, but with Diaz keeping his distance and guard up, there was no connection made. The Indian kept up the pace, striking his opponent with some quick jabs and combination punches, but Diaz countered well, landing a few on Hussamuddin's face as well. The judges were split 3-2 in the Indian's favour after the first round.

The second round saw both boxers ramp up the aggression, but with defences well on top that saw plenty of clinches and the referee intervening. Hussamuddin struggled to breach Diaz's defence, but landed a few glancing blows to his opponent's face. Yet, Diaz had his fair share of jabs, but the judges were split 4-1 in Hussamuddin's favour after the second round, albeit only a point lead.

With the bout very finely balanced, both boxers dropped their guards a bit - Hussamuddin had the slight edge on speed, but Diaz held his own - landing a few uppercuts with Hussamuddin primarily counter-punching. Both boxers celebrated with their corner after the bell rang at the end of the third round, with the bout unsurprisingly going for a review. Ultimately it was a split decision that saw Hussamuddin's arm raised, thus confirming his medal.

Post the win, Hussamuddin noted the difficulty of the victory, saying "It was a tough bout because my opponent was playing really rough and it caused me some problems but somehow I prevailed - to win and proceed to the next round. I had made plans with the coach before the bout and implemented if perfectly in the match. Our plan was to keep moving in the ring and make my opponent work to reach me, to attack, and it worked perfectly as I hit a lot of side blows to gather points in the bout," stated Hussamuddin after the victory.

He added, " I am feeling really great after securing a medal for India and now I am just two steps away from a gold medal. I am confident that I will win the gold in this tournament."

Ahead of the tournament, most of India's hopes rested on Hussamuddin - due to the absence of Amit Panghal as well as Shiva Thapa's inconsistent form in recent years. The 29-year-old's recent form saw him win gold in the 2023 Nationals, prior to which he had won bronze at the 2022 Asian Championships as well as the 2022 Commonwealth Games (losing out narrowly in the semifinals), to add to his medal from the 2018 CWG in Jakarta.

Born the youngest brother of six in a family of boxers, Hussamuddin had early success as a 15-year-old in 2009 amidst the junior/youth circuit domestically, following it up with a gold on debut in the senior nationals in 2016. Two medals (a silver and a bronze) at the Strandja Memorial followed, but Hussamuddin was never afforded the chance at the Worlds - this being his debut in the competition. A southpaw with a fast, aggressive style usually, Hussamuddin has switched things up in these Worlds, employing some canny defending to go with his speed - leaving every opponent he has faced with no answer. It's no wonder then, that he's had unanimous 5-0 wins in every bout prior to the quarterfinal.

Road to SF:

Round-of-64: Mohammed Hussamuddin 5-0 Alen Rustemovski of Macedonia

Round-of-32: Mohammed Hussamuddin 5-0 Lyu Ping of China

Round-of-16: Mohammed Hussamuddin 5-0 Eduard Savvin of Russia

Quarterfinal: Mohammed Hussamuddin 4-3 Javier Ibanez Diaz of Bulgaria (bout review)