Vijender suffers shock exit in last 8
India’s poster boy will return empty-handed
Medal of a better hue was his target but Vijender Singh will return with a bitter pill after bowing to Uzbekistan’s Abbos Atoev in the quarterfinals of Olympic Games boxing.
A bronze medallist in the 75kg category in Beijing four years ago, Vijender was one win away from repeating that feat. But Atoev proved too formidable an opponent in Monday night’s quarterfinal bout, winning 17-13.
The defeat of their biggest star has come as a big setback for the Indian boxing team, which was hoping to strike it rich here. Eight boxers took the ring here but with the business end nearing, only Devendro Singh and Mary Kom are in the fray.
Mary has assured herself of at least a bronze while Devendro is in quarterfinals, and a win away from earning at least a bronze. Still, it is a less than satisfactory show by the Indian team, as three boxers had made it at least to the quarterfinals in Beijing.
Charges of foul play at every turn haven’t show them in good light and it was no different when Vijender lost out on Monday, though no formal complaint came from the Indian team. Vijender himself walked away in a huff, too disappointed to offer any comments to the media.
Vijender and Atoev go back a long way and at the Asian Games in Guangzhou two years ago, the Indian was the champion, beating the Uzbek 7-0 in the final. This time around, the Uzbek was clearly the superior fighter as he took charge after a cautious first round.
The familiar foes were sizing the rivals up in the round, delivering a couple of punches to break even at 3-3. Vijender attacked with vigour in the second round with a good left-right combination earning him points early. Atoev remained unnerved, and warding off Vijender’s attacks, he found gaps in the Indian’s defence to land punches steadily.
Winning the round 7-5, he put pressure on the Indian to deliver in the decider. As desperation crept in, Vijender threw caution to the winds but Atoev hit back with precision to retain control all the way. The scores in the third round read 7-5 in Uzbek’s favour and as he was proclaimed the winner, a crestfallen Vijender made his way out quietly. The defeat was too bitter to swallow.
Devendro Singh, the only Indian male boxer remaining, will fight his 49kg quarterfinal bout against Paddy Barnes of Ireland on Wednesday.