Three Indian boxers a step away from Olympic medal (Boxing Roundup)

August 16th, 2008 - 10:46 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, Aug 16 (IANS) Indian boxers kept the tri-colour flying high as Vijender Kumar and Jitender Kumar outclassed their opponents and joined Haryana stablemate Akhil Kumar in the quarterfinals of the event at the Olympic Games here Saturday. Vijender outpunched Wushu-star turned boxer Angkhan Chomphuphuang of Thailand 13-3 in the middleweight (75kg) category while Jitender toyed with his Uzbek rival Tulashboy Doniyorov 13-6 in the flyweight (51kg) category at the Workers Gymnasium here.

Vijender opened up a 2-0 lead in the first round and by the end of the second, had extended it to 6-1. The Indian then rained punches in the third round, scoring four points to take the bout under firm grip with a 10-1 lead. The Thai, however, gained a couple of points in the final round but that was not enough to stop Vijender’s march to the quarters.

There is, however, a big hurdle between Vijender and a medal as in Wednesday’s quarterfinals the 22-year-old will face the strong challenge of Ecuadorian boxer Carlos Gongora, who defeated Georgios Gazis of Greece 12-1. Gongora finished ninth in the World Championships while Vijender was 17th.

Jitender’s fight too would be tough as he meets three-time European flyweight champion Georgy Balakshin of Russia in the quarterfinal Tuesday. Jitender though is upbeat about his prospects.

“I have lost to him once before, but this time I want to avenge that defeat and I will not let him get away. That time I did not get points but this time it will be different,” said the chirpy Jitender, a 2006 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist.

Jitender revealed that he had pestered Akhil Kumar last night to get some points on how to handle Doniyorov, who the latter has beaten once before.

Jitender, who considers Akhil as his friend, philosopher and guide, admitted: “Last night, I could not sleep and (kept) thinking about this bout. Akhil had beaten him once before. So, I didn’t let him sleep and kept asking how to fight my opponent (Doniyorov), because my style is very much like Akhil’s. I have modelled myself on the way Akhil fights. He is everything for me. He is the one I wish to follow and emulate. If I win a medal, it will be for him.”

Jitender, at the 2006 World Juniors’ had lost to Russian World Champion Sergey Vodopyanov, whom Akhil beat Friday night.

The last time Jitender clashed with 2004 Olympic quarter-finalist Balakshin was at the quarterfinals of the Chicago World Championships, where the Indian lost after putting up a good fight in the first half.

Interestingly at the same World Championships, Doniyorov lost in the first round to the eventual world champion, Ronny Warren.

The flyweight category has been thrown open by the early exit of Warren in the round of 32, where the American lost to South Korean Lee Oksung on a close points decision at 8-9.

The trend for the Jitender-Doniyorov bout was set in the first 15 seconds, where the Uzbek displayed a tendency to hold and push. But the Indian also was doing the same to avoid coming into the range of the southpaw, who is known for delivering a killer punch.

Jitender opened the scoring in the first 30 seconds with two quick points. The Uzbek, too, opened his scoring, but before the round could end Jitender landed two more clean punches to make it 4-1.

Into the second round, there were no points for either boxer for almost a minute and a quarter, before Jitender opened the scoring for the round with a upper cut. Before that the referee, Spain’s Francisco Alloza Rosa indicated to the Uzbek to desist from clinching.

That was the sole point of the second round at the end of which Jitender was 5-1 up.

It was a handy lead, but the Indian camp refused to become complacent as coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu revealed later. “On Friday (in Akhil’s bout) we had fallen 2-6 behind, but then came back to win. We did not want that to happen to us today. We told Jitender to score and then backpedal (step back) as a strategy and it worked very well.”

Jitender, talking of his strategy to backpedal, said: “He (Doniyorov) was also fighting with good footwork. Although I was enjoying the lead, there was some problem when I was told by my coaches that I have received a cut on my chin. It was a bit of problem. But finally I overcame him and won.”

The cut came in the third round. If it starts bleeding, the referee can stop the fight in favour of the opponent.

In the third round, Jitender scored two points quickly in the first 30 seconds to go 7-1 up before Doniyorov, warned by the referee for persistently pushing, scored a point.

By the time the round ended, Jitender had worked himself into an excellent position at 11-4, despite the Uzbek taking two points in last five seconds of the round.

In the last round, it was Jitender’s turn to be warned. But the Indian was careful to stay away of the southpaw’s range, and with a minute to go he was 12-6 up. He continued to dance around and virtually got the Uzbek to come in and managed yet another point to make it 13-6 and earn a place in the quarterfinals.

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