Boxers fail to land KO punch
Devendro’s exit in quarters signals the end of pugilists’ disappointing run
The fight of the seven-man army is over. Bruised bodies and hurt pride are all that the men take away after a competition that just did not pan out as per their expectations.
Devendro Singh, India’s last man standing in the ring, lost out in the quarterfinals to Ireland’s Paddy Barnes on We-dnesday nig-ht, marking the end of London 2012 for the boxers. It was a painful finish for a bunch that had promised lots, with officials proclaiming it as the best ever team to depart India’s shores. But right from the moment Shiva Thapa went out in the first round of the 54kg category, little went India’s way here.
Devendro’s defeat was the final blow and India will return home with a lone bronze medal won by woman boxer Mary Kom. Devendro threw a gutsy challenge at Barnes, the Beijing Olympics bronze medallist. He attacked with vigour right through but the Irish boxer, backed by a vociferous crowd at the ExCel centre, withstood the barrage and chalked out a 23-18 verdict in the 49kg category clash.
The Indian camp has been alleging biased refereeing was the cause of their lack of success here and they toed the same line on Wednesday. “The referee was poor. The opponent was clearly holding but he didn’t say anything. We deserved to get a medal here but it has been very difficult,” said India’s Cuban coach B I Fernandez.
Devendro came out charging against Barnes, raining blows on the Irishman who looked for opening to land punches of his own. A good combination from the Indian signalled his intentions but Barnes replied with a couple of uppercuts and a sharp right. The first round went to Barnes 7-5 but in the second, the Indian was warned for head-butting and that gave his rival a comfortable advantage.
Barnes won the round 10-5, taking his overall score to 17-10. A desperate Devendro swung into action in the third round but he had too much of ground to cover. The Irish boxer was warned for holding but that wasn’t of much help to Devendro who took the round 8-6.
The verdict, though, was clearly in favour of Barnes and a disappointed Indian covered his face with his hand before trudging away. Barnes goes on to meet China’s Shiming Zhou, the same opponent who had beaten him in Bejing four years ago.
India’s chief coach G S Sandhu admitted the boxers had failed to meet the expectations but said they had fought well. “I am happy with their performance; there are a number of young boxers coming up, but I am sad because I think I am responsible for not being able to translate those performance into medal-winning ones,” he said.
“We had come looking for medals. We are very grateful to Mary Kom, who has come to our rescue and got a medal,” added Sandhu, who had said he would contemplate quitting after London.