Bhagwan wins, Akhil out

The seventh seeded Akhil went down 2-16 to become the fourth Indian to make a first-round exit from the mega-event. However, late last night, Asian silver medallist Jai Bhagwan outpunched Venezuela’s Angel Rodrigues 10-4 to bring the first cheer in the Indian camp.

Akhil, who had not competed in an international event since the World Cup in December last year, found himself on the backfoot in the very first round, trailing 1-4. “I ended up hurting my right wrist in first few seconds of the bout and the pain was too much to bear thereafter. I just couldn’t land a punch after that,” Akhil said.

“I would consult my physio Heath Matthews from the Mittal Champions Trust to know the extent of damage but hopefully it’s not too much and I would recover quickly,” added the 27-year-old, who was operated for the injury last year. Akhil could score just one more point against his rival’s 12 in the remaining two rounds to bow out.

“A long hook that he landed in the first round hurt him so badly that he couldn’t move his arm,” said national coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu.  But Jai’s win last night helped lift the spirits in the Indian camp. The Haryana-boxer opened a 3-1 lead in the first round before blanking his opponent in the second round to extend it to 7-1.

Rodrigues tried to claw his way back in the final round, finishing 3-3, but the effort proved too little too late. “I just read his game in the first round and went on the offensive in the next two rounds. It all turned out to be pretty easy in the end,” Jai said. Sandhu said Jai mixed aggression with caution to outwit his rival.

Jai will take on Irish team’s co-captain Eric Donovan in the second round tomorrow. Donovan defeated Bakhodir Karimov of Kirgyzstan 13-4 in his championship opener.
“I lost to him by a point in the European Grand Prix event in Czech Republic in May. But this time, I am confident about beating him,” Jai said.

Earlier, three Indians - Asian champion Suranjoy Singh (51kg), Jitender Kumar (54kg) and Manoj Kumar (64kg) - exited the event after losing their opening-round bouts.

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