Nationals: Losing face, value
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The 58th boxing nationals in Hyderabad feature a depleted field. Of the seven boxers who featured in the Olympics only Sumit Sangwan is taking part. Fatigue is the most common reason cited. Boxers didn't suddenly qualify and take part in the Olympics, they prepared for months and years in national camps. Some rest is understandable.
Most boxers peak at the Olympics and it is hard to duplicate the physical conditioning even three months after their last competition. With competition intense in some lighter categories, a few coaches admit some boxers simply do not want to take part because of a genuine fear of losing to an unheralded opponent. The same argument however doesn't hold up in the heavier categories which have little competition.
The boxers know that there won't be too much of a price to pay. While the IABF says boxers will have to participate in nationals, it is unlikely to be enforced. The seniors also know that while the nationals aren't the only criteria for selection to the national camp, as past performances also play a role. Considering many of the absentees are Olympians, and will undoubtedly get called back to the national camp when it is convened a month after the tournament.
But this also means that the fear of suffering an upset defeat isn't entirely logical. Boxers can't avoid opponents forever and facing an opponent at the nationals means having time to adapt to a style at an event where the stakes are comparatively low. Additionally, a number of top boxers have skipped the nationals in the past even when there wasn't a competition to recover from or prepare for in the future.
As a result of the absences, boxers get to be national champions without being the best in the country. Vijender Singh - by far the best middleweight in the country has left that title vacant for four years. Ultimately it is the worth of the title itself that gets diluted.
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