Vijender Singh won a close contest and it was the good start that saw him make the quarterfinals of the middleweight category with a 16-15 win over Terrell Gausha of the US.
Cautious and trying to gauge his opponent, Vijender was defensive in the first round and came up with calculated punches, particularly with his right, to score four points.
The strongly built Gausha matched him but could only get three points with his probing left.
In the end that one point proved decisive as the two boxers matched each other 5-5 in the second round and 7-7 in the third.
Both of them were a lot more attacking as the bout progressed and invariably received counter punches.
While Vijender punched straight most of the time, the American came up with left and right hooks to breach the defence of the 26-year-old Indian, who has both an Olympic and world championship medal to his credit.
Even as the bout ended on an even note, Vijender put his hand up in celebration and was not disappointed when the decision was announced. “It was a very close fight.
“I just followed the advice of my coaches,” said Vijender who was asked to stay calm by coaches Gurbax Singh Sandhu and B.I. Fernandez.
“If you are angry, you will lose the fight, they said,” Vijender recalled, after retaining his composure despite being punched on equal terms by the American.
Gausha was a bit disappointed that the decision did not go in his favour, particularly in the second round, when he looked to have the bout in control.
“I thought I won that second round. I knew it was a close fight. I just didn’t know which way it was gonna go.
“I have been boxing all my life. You know what happens in this sport. You gotta be ready for it,” said Gausha.
Vijender will next take on two-time world champion Abbos Atoev of Uzbekistan who edged past the third-seeded Bogdan Juratoni of Romania 12-10.
Vijender was quite brilliant as he outclassed the Uzbek in the Asian Games final in Guangzhou when he did not drop a single point, despite an injured fist.
The draw has opened up a bit more with the reigning world champion Ievgen Khytrov of Ukraine losing to Anthony Ogogo of Britain, after the two were tied 18-18, on the basis of individual scores of the five judges.
Vijender knows that he has to be sharper to stay on course for a better medal in the Olympics.