Boxer Vijender Singh was unable to keep his promise of a better medal as the Beijing bronze medallist lost 17-13 to two-time World champion Abbos Atoev of Uzbekistan in the quarterfinals of the middleweight section in the Olympics at the ExCel Arena here on Monday evening.
On a day when Mary Kom had assured herself of a medal, the hero of Indian men’s boxing Vijender came up short against an opponent who was looking for revenge.
Vijender had come in to the bout enjoying a 2-1 win-loss record and had beaten the Uzbek in the Asian Games final in Guangzhou, when the later was not even credited a single punch in the whole bout.
However, here it was a different story. Atoev looked better prepared, was quick on his feet and with his punches, and left a bitter pill for the Indian camp to swallow.
After the first round where both pugilists probed each other to be on par at 3-3, it was the Uzbek who prevailed 7-5 in the next two rounds.
Though he could not connect the big punches in the first — Atoev swung more into the air than on target — there was a purpose in approach in the second and third rounds.
Vijender came up with some sharp punches, particularly the upper cut in the second round, and tended to tighten his defence as well.
Atoev used his left most of the time to score punches, while Vijender tended to rush in with a combination of punches in his attempt to gain control over the proceedings.
In the end, when the Uzbek smartly swung away to escape a punch just before the gong, it was a heart-break for the Indian camp that was already smarting under the ouster of another Asian Games gold medallist Vikas Krishan, in controversial circumstances, when he was declared a loser on review of the bout after winning it on the ring 13-11.
There was also much disappointment when Manoj Kumar lost 20-16 in the pre-quarterfinals to the third-seeded Thomas Stalker of Britain in the light welter class.
With Jai Bhagwan, Sumit Sangwan and Shiva Thapa also having bowed out earlier, the hopes of the Indian men’s boxing contingent will rest on the young shoulders of Devendro Singh, for a face-saving medal, when he fights Paddy Barnes of Ireland in the quarterfinals of the light flyweight category on Wednesday.