Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Asian Games: Vijender leads five Indians in boxing title round

Vijender Singh
GUANGZHOU: Star pugilist Vijender Singh punched his way into the final after a thrilling win to join four more Indians in the title round as boxers continued their stupendous show in the Asian Games on Wednesday.

World number one Vijender won a nail-biting 75kg semifinal bout against Mohammad Sattapour of Iran 10-7 to join teen sensation Vikas Krishan (60kg), Dinesh Kumar (81kg), Santosh Kumar (64kg) and Manpreet Singh (91kg) in the finals.

However, Commonwealth Games gold medallists Suranjoy Singh (51kg) and Paramjeet Samota (+91kg) had to be content with bronze medals after losing in the semifinals.

Vijender, who won a bronze in the 2006 Asian Games, was trailing 1-2 in the first round but recovered in the next two to prevail in a tense bout, in which his Iranian opponent almost matched him punch-for-punch.

In the opening round, both the boxers played a waiting game before the Iranian opened up a 2-0 lead, but Vijender struck back to go into the second round at 1-2.

Vijender, an Olympic and World Championship bronze medallist, was doing the catch-up job though there was not more than one-point difference between them before he jumped to 5-4 lead just before the end of second round.

Having had the measure of his opponent's tactics, Vijender went for the kill after the score was tied 6-6, and took four straight points to settle the issue.

The Iranian got a point towards the close, but by then, it was too late as Vijender ensured that he did not repeat the semifinal loss in the Commonwealth Games last month. Vijender now meets Abbos Atoev of Uzbekistan in the final on Friday.

Just before Vijender made it to the title round, Santosh defeated Masuk Wuttichai of Thailand in the 64kg semifinals to book a berth in the final.

The Indian led 1-0 and 2-0 at the end of the first two rounds before stepping up the tempo in the third round to win the bout 5-1. He will meet Daniyar Yeleussinov of Kazakhstan in the final on Friday.

In the last bout of the day, Manpreet gave further joy to the Indian camp with a 10-2 comprehensive defeat of Jakhon Qurbonov of Tajikistan.

The Indian gave little scoring chance to his opponent and was up 2-0 at the end of first round and then 4-2 in second. Despite having taken a two-point lead, Manpreet went for the kill and scored four more points to end the one-sided bout. Manpreet faces Mohammad Ghossoun of Syria in the final on Friday.

Earlier in the day, Vikas and Dinesh scored comprehensive wins against their opponents to make it to the finals.

The 18-year-old Vikas outwitted Uzbekistan's Hurshid Tojibaev 7-0 to set up a title clash with China's Qing Hu.

Dinesh also had little trouble in dispatching Nepal's Deepak Maharjan 7-1 to set up a final clash with Uzbekistan's Elshod Rasulov.

But the Indian camp suffered a heartbreak as Suranjoy lost 5-6 to China's Chang Yong in a thrilling semifinal.

Samota was also all at sea against Zhilei Zhang of China before the referee stopped the contest midway through the third round and awarded the bout to the home favourite.

Suranjoy was the first to enter the ring for India in the men's competition and was 0-3 down against Yong in the opening round.

But the 24-year-old Manipuri, who has won seven international gold medals since April 2009, roared back with his trademark left hooks to make it 5-5 in the second round.

In the third round, the diminutive Manipuri, nicknamed 'Chhota Tyson', was unlucky not to get points for some body blows even as Yong managed to land the all-important scoring punch to just about edge past Suranjoy.

Next up was Vikas and he ensured that smiles returned to the Indian camp with a composed performance in which he mixed caution with aggression.

The World Youth Champion and Youth Olympics bronze medallist showed fantastic temperament against his more experienced opponent.

With a water-tight defence, the Haryana-lad mostly counter-attacked, even letting his guard down on a few occasions to trap his rival.

Vikas took a solid 3-0 lead in the opening round, added another point in the second and sealed it with three more in the final round.

Then came Dinesh and was expectedly dominant against his Nepali rival, who found it extremely tough to match the Indian's height and reach.

The 23-year-old six-footer from Haryana landed some telling straight blows which never allowed Maharjan to claw back into the bout.

In contrast, Samota was no match for the taller and stronger Zhang, who never really allowed the Indian to attack.

Samota kept a shell-guard to counter that but Zhang managed to penetrate his defence with ease before the referee ended the contest in favour of the home team boxer.

Meanwhile, Indian women boxers ended their Asian Games campaign rather disappointingly with five-time world champion MC Mary Kom (51kg) and Kavita Goyat (75kg) settling for bronze medals after losing in the semifinals.

Mary Kom, who has won five world titles in 46kg and 48kg category, lost 7-11 to reigning 51kg world champion Ren Cancan of China. Kavita went down 1-5 to another Chinese, Jinzi Li, in her last-four stage bout.

Mary Kom, who turned 28 on Wednesday, conceded a slender 1-3 lead to Cancan in the opening two minutes and all through the bout, the Indian was left to chase the local favoutite.

The Manipuri, who is a Khel Ratna awardee and has been dubbed 'Magnificent Mary' by International Boxing Association, tried to fight back in the final two minutes but Cancan managed to hold her own to come out triumphant.

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