Commonwealth Games gold medallist Manoj Kumar (64kg) became the fifth Indian boxer to make it to the round of the 16 after notching up a comfortable win in his opening round bout of the light welter weight division at the London Olympics. The 25 year old, making his Olympic debut, took on Serdar Hudayberdiyev of Turkmenistan late on Tuesday (31 July 2012) at the Excel arena. There was not much separating the two boxers in the opening round, with the scores knotted at 2 all. But with the beginning of the second round Manoj, the 2007 Asian Championship bronze medallist soon gathered pace and started penetrating the defence of the Turkmenistan boxer with sharp left and right jabs. By the end of the round he was leading by 9:5. In the final three minutes of play, Manoj slowed down a bit, but still did enough to win the round (4:2) and with it the bout 13:7. It was a comprehensive victory by the Haryana Lad, which sees him move into the pre-quarter final stage of the tournament.
Earlier in the day Laishram Devendro Singh (49kg) made an aggressive start to his Olympic campaign as he registered a thumping victory in the round of 32 of the light fly weight division. The Indian boxer displayed great skill and agility and needed less than three minutes to get past his Honduras opponent Bayron Molina Figueroa.
Tough Challenge Ahead for Indian pugilists
Manoj Kumar will have to be on top of his game when he takes on third seed and bronze medal winner at the 2011 World Championship, Thomas Stalker of England, in the next round. Stalker will have a physiological advantage going into the bout as he holds a 1:0 record against the Indian, having beaten him at the 2011 worlds last year. Devendro also has a tough ask ahead of him as he takes on fourth seed, Beijing Olympics silver medallist and 2011 World Championship bronze medallist Serdamba Purevdorj of Mongolia in the round of 16.††Both the boxers will be seen in action on Saturday (4 Aug 2012).
Beijing Olympic bronze medallist Vijender Singh (75kg) and Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Jai Bhagwan (60kg) will play their pre quarter-finals bouts on Thursday (2 Aug 2012) against opponents that can prove to be tricky. While Vijender will lock horns with winner of the American Olympic Qualification Tournament Terrell Gausha of the United States for the first time, Jai will look to avenge his 2011 World Championship loss as he takes on Gani Zhailauov of Kazakhstan. Gausha, who comprehensively beat 2009 World Championship silver medallist Andranik Hakobyan of Armenia in the first round of the middle weight division, looks to be in top form and would not be an easy opponent to get past. But the 26 year old Indian, making his third Olympic appearance is also in good shape and very much capable of upsetting the best in the business. Coach GS Sandhu said,†“The American is a technically sound boxer, but Vijender is in a good rhythm and full of confidence right now and we are positive of a good result”.†In the light weight category, Jai shares an equal head-to-head record with his Kazakh opponent - out of the two times the two boxers have met, both have a win to their name. Jai who beat Gani at the 2009 Asian Championships, lost to him with just a one point difference in the quarter-finals of the world championships in the Azeri capital last year. The 26 year old will be keen to make amends this time around.
World Championship bronze medallist Vikas Krishan (69kg) is the only Indian boxer to have gotten a bye in the opening round. He will face off against Errol Spence from USA, on Friday (3 Aug 2012).†