Boxer Devendro Singh fought hard but Paddy Barnes of Ireland proved better in the light flyweight class, as the spirited lad from Imphal went down 18-23 in the quarterfinals of the Olympics at the ExCel Arena here on Wednesday.
With the defeat of the 20-year-old Devendro, the hopes of bettering the record of a bronze medal (won at Beijing) in men’s boxing went up in smoke.
Seven men, including Asian Games gold medallists Vijender Singh and Vikas Krishan, who had also won world championship bronze medals, came up short.
There was no doubt that all the pugilists put up a good show and fought their hearts out, but were deemed unlucky in certain situations.
Devendro captured the strong approach of the Indian squad as the young man fought like a street bully, throwing punches in a flurry though most of them were negated by the Irishman’s good defence.
In such a scenario, it was to Devendro’s credit that he collected five points each in the first two rounds, when his opponent, a European champion and Beijing Games bronze medallist, held the upper hand by taking 17 points.
In the third round, Devendro was a lot more scientific in approach and was able to get through more punches to win that round 8-6.
However, it was too little too late in the day for India.
Coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu, putting his arm around the young lad and patting his cheek, congratulated him on a brave fight against an experienced opponent who enjoyed tremendous support from the packed arena.
“I knew he would come out with all guns blazing.
“It was really nerve-wracking, but I dug deep and just got on with it,” said the 25-year-old Barnes, who promised to fight better against the favourite Zou Shiming of China, who had beaten him 15-0 in Beijing.
“We deserved to get a medal here,” said long-time coach of the Indian team B.I. Fernandez of Cuba.
Coach Sandhu said he was happy with the Indian boxers’ overall performance, but felt sad the quality work in the ring did not convert into medals.
“We had come for medals. We are very grateful to Mary who has come to our rescue and got a medal,” said Sandhu.