Rejigging of divisions brings Akhil back to bantam weight


The 28-year-old, who jumped a division to feather weight (57kg) at the beginning of the year, will have to drop back to bantam weight, which was revised from 54kg to 56kg a couple of months ago by the International Boxing Association (AIBA).
The World governing body of the sport had abolished the feather weight category in its reshuffling of divisions.
Akhil, who has had a tough year battling one injury setback after another, returned from South Africa following a month-long rehabilitation to recover from a wrist problem.
"It's been tough but hopefully the new year would mark a new beginning. I will have to come back to bantam weight now, which would be the toughest category from now on because a lot of boxers will either lose or gain weight to fight in this division," Akhil said.
The injury had cut short his bid for a World Championship medal as he lost in the very first round of the event in September. But after the rehabilitation which was sponsored by the Mittal Champions Trust under renowned physiotherapist Heath Matthews, the Haryana boxer is back to being fit.

"He is improving all the time. Just two more months needed and he would be fit to take the ring," Matthews said.
But even in prime fitness, the competition has just got tougher for Akhil as younger boxers like his own protege Jitender (22) and Chhote Lal Yadav (23), who have made their mark internationally in the past one year, would be up against him.
"That's the tricky part. He (Jitender) is like a brother but I will now have to compete against him. Chhote too is very close to me," the 2006 Commonwealth Games gold medallist said.
"They are excellent boxers and I can't take my place for granted. But then I have the experience," he added.
Age catching up and a body that has taken several injury blows don't bother Akhil much and he says, "It's all in the mind. I don't think I am any less than these younger guys. I, in fact, know their strengths and weaknesses."

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