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Boxer Manoj enters Olympic pre-quarterfinals

Indian boxer Manoj Kumar stunned Evaldas Petrauskas of Lithuania by a split decision in the Round of 32 of the men’s Light Welterweight (64kg) category at the Riocentrio Pavilion here.

Up against the bronze medallist of the 2012 London Olympics, Manoj dominated all three rounds to carve out a 29-28, 29-28, 28-29 verdict and advance to the pre-quarterfinals here on Wednesday.

The Indian will next meet Fazluddin Gaiznazarov of Uzbekistan in the Round of 16 on August 14. Gaiznazarov had outclassed Malonga Dzalamou of Congo by RSC (Referee Stopped Contest).

“My opponent was strong, but my punches had power. I played according to his punches. I knew he was a hard opponent, so I didnt go with any strategy to the ring. All strategy was made on the go,” Manoj said after his bout.

“My elder brother Rajesh Kumar as coach taught me as much as he could. I have no God givent talent. It’s hard work over 20 years that has brought me here. If my fist has power, I will succeed in the next match too,” he added.

Both boxers were aggressive right from the start. Despite being much shorter than Manoj Petrauskas ultra aggressive style and his raw power did cause some problems for the Haryana pugilist.

Manoj utilsed his superior height to good effect, keeping his opponent at distance with sharp jabs and repeatedly penetrated Petrauskas’ defence with his excellent combinations.

Manoj’s excellent defence and counter-punching style coupled with his superior meant that the Lithuanian was finding it difficult to penetrate his defence and was forced to resort mainly to punches to the body.

Petrauskas’s attempts to beat Manoj’s defence by repeated rushing him and hoping to land with his jabs were met with effective counter-attacks by the Indian.

Petrauskas, however, did manage to hurt Manoj in the closing stages of the first round as he landed with a strong right that caught him off-balance. After the first round, the judges ruled10-9, 10-9, 9-10 in favour of the Indian.

The second round followed a similar script with Manoj peppering his opponent repeated with sharp jabs and dominating the proceedings which saw all three judges awarding the round to him.

The Lithuanian came out swing in the third and final round while Manoj became a little defensive in order to preserve his lead. Petrauskas did much better to take the with identical 10-9 decisions all three judges, but it did not prove to be enough.

Gurcharan Singh Sandhu, the head coach of the Indian boxing squad, praised Manoj for his performance.

“The opponent was a power puncher but Manoj kept him at long range. He wanted to move in close and deliver strong hits,” Sandhu told reporters.

“The opponent is an Olympic bronze medallist, and so Manoj’s performance was superb.”

Boxer Vikas enters Olympic pre-quarterfinals

Vikas Krishan Yadav gave India’s boxing campaign a rousing start with a dominant victory at the ongoing Rio Olympics over Charles Conwell of the US in the men’ Middleweight (75kg) category at the Riocentrio Pavilion here.

The Indian outpunched the 18-year-old American by a unanimous decision in the Round of 32 bout with all three judges ruling 29-28, 29-28, 29-28 in favour of the Haryana boxer here on Tuesday.

Vikas will now face Onder Sipal of Turkey in the pre-quarterfinals.

Sipal faced a tough challenge from the impressive Benny Muzio of Zambia before winning an entertaining and highly technical bout by a split decision.

Vikas was at the wrong end of some controversial officiating at the 2012 London Olympics and seemed eager to prove himself at the biggest stage in the world of sports.

The former Asian Games champion from Hisar district of Haryana was by far the superior boxer through all the three rounds and hardly broke sweat against the young Conwell who was appearing in his maiden Olympics.

“The strategy was to win the first two rounds. My opponent was younger, more powerful and had more strength. But I banked on my experience,” Vikas said after the bout.

“I had never seen him fight before so wanted to observe him in the first minute. Then I tried to dominate. He was bending down to hit and I expected the referee to warn him, but he did not,” he added.

Gurcharan Singh Sandhu, the head coach of the Indian boxing squad, said that Vikas’ strategy focussed on utilising his superior height to prevent Conwell from closing in which made it difficult for the American to score and pepper him with quick jabs to the body.

“The opponent wanted to box close and rough so I advised him to punch clear and from distance. The idea was to dominate first two rounds, which Vikas did. The third round did not count unless you lose by a big margin,” Sandhu said.

Vikas dominated the opening round with powerful shots to the body and a couple to the face as well. The American kept his head low and absorbed the Indian’s punches as most of Vikas’ attempted punches to the face landed on top of his head.

The American did land a few body punches of his own but he was totally outgunned by the pugilist from Haryana.

Vikas displayed superior footwork and defence which coupled with his height advantage ensured that most of Conwell’s attempted jabs to the face could only brush the top of his head.

At the end of the first round, all three judges ruled 10-9, 10-9, 10-9 in favour of the Indian.

Vikas was more relaxed in the second round, sitting back and forcing the American to work harder. He seemed to have the measure of his opponent, relying on his counterpunching style to punch holes in his opponent’s defence time and again.

The 24-year-old from the Haryana Police landed quite a few punches to the body and face of Conwell, clearly outclassing the American with his speed and excellent combinations.

In the second round, two of the judges gave all 10 points to Vikas while the third judge gave him nine points.

Comwel was more aggressive in the final round as Vikas focused more on preserving his lead. The American produced a much better show in the closing stages, but it proved to be too little too late.

Later, Sipal faced a much tougher challenge from Muziyo. The duo went toe to toe with Muziyo’s superior height and punching causing plenty of problems for the Turk.

But it was Sipal who prevailed in the end with a 28-29, 29-28, 29-28 verdict.

Mary Kom
Mary Kom

Uncertain future awaits women’s boxing: Mary Kom

New Delhi, June 18 (IANS) With five World Championship titles under her belt, M.C. Mary Kom is one of the legends of women’s boxing, but she is not sure that the next generation of Indian women boxers will yield too many icons.

“There is not much competition in India. The nationals are not organised properly. For the last two to three years, there have been no competitions at the national level. I can’t see any woman boxer from India shining at the international level anytime soon,” Mary told IANS.

“The level of women’s boxing has really improved over the years and we need better training for the young, upcoming boxers,” she added.

Mary had lost in the second round of the AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships in Astana, Kazakhstan in May which dealt a severe blow to her chances of qualifying for the Rio Olympics.

But the ad-hoc committee which is currently running the sport in the country has appealed to the International Boxing Federation (AIBA) for a wild card entry for the London Olympics medallist.

Mary, who is praying hard for a chance to represent the country in her second Olympics, is confident that she will finish on the podium if she is allowed to take to the ring in Rio de Janeiro.

“I was extremely disappointed after losing at the World Championships. The competition is getting tougher day by day. I am trying my best from my side. Unfortunately, I could not qualify till now. The entire country is supporting me and I am confident their prayers will bear fruit.

“The ad-hoc committee has sent the application, let us see what comes out of it. I am very hopeful,” Mary said.

“If I do get to Olympics, I have high chances of getting a medal. I have trained really hard and I am in good shape right now. I was unlucky at the World Championships. I should have won that bout, but these things happen in sport,” she asserted.

Indian boxing has been going through a rough patch since 2012 when the AIBA banned the national federation over allegations of rigged elections.

Ever since, the two suspended rival bodies — Indian Amateur Boxing Federation (IABF) and Boxing India (BI) — have been bickering with each other.

Currently, an ad-hoc panel appointed by the AIBA is running the show, but the sport has suffered a lot with no national championships since 2012. The training calendar and camps for elite boxers, which were meticulously planned ahead of the 2012 Olympics, have also gone haywire.

The problems within the administration have affected performance in the ring with only one Indian boxer — Shiva Thapa (56 kg) — making the cut for the Olympics so far.

Mary, who is currently busy promoting an initiative by Ariel India to remove gender bias in Indian households, refused to comment on whether the absence of a federation has hampered the preparations of Indian boxers ahead of the Olympic qualifiers.

While refusing to comment on issues concerning the administration, Mary expressed confidence that more Indian boxers will clinch Olympic berths.

“Everyone is doing their best. The men boxers are also giving their best. Ideally, I think at least another one or two among the men should qualify,” she said.

(Ajeyo Basu can be contacted at [email protected])