Indian boxer Akhil Kumar stuns Russian world champion in Beijing

August 15th, 2008 - 8:37 pm ICT by IANS  

By V. Krishnaswamy
Beijing, Aug 15 (IANS) Indian boxer Akhil Kumar gave the country the best Independence Day gift stunning world champion Sergey Vodapoyanov of Russia to enter the quarterfinals of the men’s 54 kg category at the Olympics here Friday. Akhil, who trailed 3-6 in the third round, rained blows on the world No.1 and reduced the margin to 7-8 by the end of the round. The 27-year-old boxer from Bhiwani, northern state Haryana, showed great determination in getting back into the bout and in the last round held his nerve to tie on points.

After the fourth round, the boxers were locked 9-9, but the judges gave the bout to Akhil for landing more punches than the Russian. The decision shattered the reigning world champion in tears as Akhil did a celebratory jig in the ring at the Workers Gymnasium. The Indian is now just a bout away from an Olympic medal.

“He (Sergey) is a world champion. It was a tough fight, but I am here to win gold. No silver, no bronze, but only the gold. There is nothing like being No.1 and I want to be No. 1,” said Akhil, a 2006 Commonwealth Games gold medallist.

Indian coach Gurbaksh Singh was also pleased with Akhil’s performance. “He (Akhil) is a classy boxer, just look at his determination and thoughts. I am delighted at his victory.”

Besides, Akhil, two other Indian boxers Vijender Kumar (75kg) and Jitender Kumar (51kg) are still in the hunt and have the pre-quarters bout Saturday.

Akhil registered a fine 12-5 win over former World Championship bronze medallist Frenchman Ali Hallab in the first round.

Akhil had beaten 2004 Olympic silver medallist Worapoj Pitchkoom of Thailand in February to qualify for the Olympics. He was adjudged the best boxer at the Asian Olympic Qualifiers.

Akhil has been in great form of late, winning three medals in the four international events he has participated in, since the 2006 Commonwealth Games.

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