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Vikas advances to prequarters

Vikas Krishan of India reacts after winning his bout against Charles Conwell of USA in boxing – preliminary – men’s middle (75kg) round in Rio de Janeiro on Tuesday. – UNI
 RIO DE JANEIRO, Aug 10: Former Asian Games gold medallist Vikas Krishan (75kg) gave a perfect start to India’s boxing campaign in the Olympics, beating American greenhorn Charles Conwell to enter the pre-quarterfinals here today.

The 24-year-old Vikas defeated the Olympic debutant 3-0 in his opening contest, which came alive only in the final three minutes, to make the last-16.

The 18-year-old Conwell, who walked in to hostile boos from the local crowd, struggled to launch an attack on the Indian in the opening round. Vikas, on the other hand, used his right straights and uppercuts to good effect in the first three minutes.

Vikas dropped his guard quite early in the bout, but Conwell’s attempts at capitalising on it did not quite work out as he landed into a well-laid trap by the counter-attacking Indian. Vikas seemed more assured in the second round and concentrated on breaking down Conwell’s defence by targetting his torso.

Although the judges were divided in awarding the round to the former World Championships bronze-medallist, Vikas had done enough to secure himself the handy lead going into the final round.

After being seemingly clueless and fetching two cautions for bending excessively in the first two rounds, Conwell gathered himself in the final three minutes to land a couple of crisp jabs, but the effort came too late in the day.

The final round ended up being tied between the two boxers, but Vikas emerged triumphant on the back of his strong showing in the first two rounds. Tomorrow, former Commonwealth Games gold-medallist Manoj Kumar will open his campaign against Lithuania’s Evaldas Petrauskas.

“I wanted to hit clean punches so it’s seen for all the five judges and kill the element of doubt. Exchanges were normal but my blows were clean,” Vikas added.

“This boxer was completely new to me. I never met him either at the World Cup or the World Championships. So the idea was to watch him properly in the first round and try to inflict two to four sharp blows to get the attention of the judges,” he said. “He is a youngster and was relying more on power, while I played with my experience. I knew he’s young and athletic so I tried to maintain a bit of distance,” he added.

National coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu hoped all the three boxers would do well.

“He was trying to play rough and in the close range. We wanted to keep him at a distance and make some uppercuts. It was total domination, the second round was close but we still dominated. We wanted to save ourselves in the third round,” he said.

Manoj Kumar (64kg) will begin his campaign tomorrow, followed by Shiva Thapa (56kg) on Thursday. – PTI

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