Defeats Serdar Hudayberdiyev of Turkmenistan 13-7 to become the fifth Indian in the round of 16

Manoj Kumar (64kg) notched up a comfortable win to take the total number of Indian boxers in the Olympic pre-quarterfinals to five after the completion of the first round bouts here.

Manoj defeated Serdar Hudayberdiyev of Turkmenistan 13-7 at the ExCel arena on Tuesday night after L. Devendro Singh (49kg) made a sensational Olympic debut by stopping Honduras’ Bayron Molina Figueroa in less than three minutes of his opening bout.

Manoj started cautiously but gradually opened up to prevail over his opponent with a 13-7 verdict.

The Indian pugilist did not exert himself too much in the opening round as he gauged the strategy of his opponent who also was quite content in defending.

The score was tied 2-2 at the end of the opening round but Manoj gradually turned on the heat with deft punches and showed good reflexes to win the second round 7-3.

Domination

From then on, the Indian pugilist completely dominated the bout with a flurry of punches which gave no chance to his opponent from Turkmenistan.

Manoj thus became the fifth boxer to qualify for the pre-quarterfinals. 2008 Olympic bronze-medallist Vijender Singh (75kg), Jai Bhagwan (60kg) progressed to the round of 16 earlier while third-seeded Vikas Krishan (69kg) got a bye into the pre-quarterfinals.

Manoj will take on Great Britain’s Thomas Stalker on August 4.

Out of the seven male boxers who qualified, two — Shiva Thapa (56kg) and Sumit Sangwan (81kg) — have made their exit after losing in the opening round.

Meanwhile, five-time world champion M.C. Mary Kom (51kg) will be India’s sole representative in women’s boxing which makes its Olympic debut here on August 5.

Talking about the challenge facing Jai, who is an Asian championships silver-medallist, Indian coach Gurbaksh Singh Sandhu said, “The Kazakh guy is world No. 5 and the bout will be very tough.

“The overall record says 1-1 but Jai says ‘sir, it is my turn now’ It’s a contact sport at the end of the day and you never know how lucky or unlucky you would be. So, we can just focus on giving a good account of ourselves,” he added.

Team upbeat

Of the seven male boxers who qualified for the Olympics, two — Shiva Thapa (56kg) and Sumit Sangwan (81kg) — lost in the first round but Sandhu said the team was still quite upbeat.

“The disappointment is behind us now because our boys fought well even when they lost.

“Overall, the boys are very positive and mood in the team is good,” said Sandhu.

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