Astana, Kazakhstan: Commonwealth Games gold medalist Suranjoy Singh (52 kg) and promising teenager Sumit Sangwan (81 kg) won their opening-round bouts in the Asian Olympic Qualifying boxing event on Thursday.
Both the Indian boxers registered contrasting victories over their opponents to advance to the next stage of the second Olympic qualifying tournament. While Suranjoy doused Dong-Myung Shin of South Korea in a hard-fought contest, Sumit pulverised Van Toan Luong of Vietnam in a completely lopsided affair.
Suranjoy now moves to the round-of-16 in the tournament and will have to at least make it to the semi-finals in order to make it to the London Games.
The 2010 Asian Games bronze medalist started strongly against Shin, taking a two-point lead after the opening three minutes of play. With some great combinations and power punches, he piled on the points in the second round as well and was leading with a five-point difference (13:8). In the final round, the South Korean boxer came back strongly and Suranjoy had to go on the defensive. But the former Asian champion managed to squeeze in a few nifty blows and keep Shin at bay. In the end, he went on to win the bout with a score of 16:14 on points. The 26-year-old Indian next faces 2009 World Championship silver medalist Tugstsogt Nayambayar of Mongolia.
Nayambayar, who defeated Rey Saludar of the Philippines in a one-sided battle, has proven to be a difficult adversary for the Indian boxer on more than one occasion. Suranjoy went down against him in the opening round of the 2009 World Championships in Milan and again at the 2011 World Championships in Baku in the second round, which was the first qualifying tournament for the 2012 Olympics. In both the instances, the Mongolian boxer managed to scrape though with the slightest of margins. It will be interesting to see how the 'Little Tyson' from Manipur tackles this psychological disadvantage as he attempts to inch closer to his Olympic dream.
In the light heavyweight division, Sumit displayed great potential and skill against the Southeast Asian Games champion Van Toan. Sangwan, who got the better of his more experience compatriot, Olympian and Asian Games silver medalist Dinesh Kumar in the trials at NIS Patiala, showed exactly why he made the cut.
Attacking from the onset, he never allowed the Vietnamese boxer to settle down. Luong had no answer to the offensive onslaught. Sumit won the the opening round five-nil and claimed the second 3:1. His ability to quickly understand his opponent also seemed to be paying off. Luong could hardly land any scoring punches. In the end, the National Games gold medalist won comprehensively, by a margin of 12 points (14:2).
For the 19-year-old Indian, the road ahead is not going to be easy as he will have to get past some of the veterans of the sport, in order to claim one of the three Olympic quotas at stake in the 81 kg category. This victory for now has ensured a quarter-final spot for Sumit, where he will take on the reigning Asian champion Hyeongkyu Kim of South Korea.
Beijing Olympic bronze medalist Vijender Singh (75 kg) will be seen in action in the preliminaries of the middle weight category on Friday. The 26-year-old will lock horns with Ishak Waez of Syria in the round-of-16. The former world No.1 will need to make it to the semi-finals in order to secure an Olympic quota. Looking at the draw, Vijender seems set to make it to the semi-finals stage of the tournament without much of a hassle. His opponents in the round-of-16 and the quarters, if odds are to be believed, might not be able to offer that much of a challenge.
The other Indian in the fray will be Asian Games silver medalist Manpreet Singh. Manpreet will take on Yerbolat Tulyek of Mongolia in his opening bout, in an attempt to secure to the singular Olympic spot available in his weight category.
Silver medalist at the recently-concluded Czech Grand Prix, Shiva Thapa (56 kg) got a bye in the first round and will fight against Afghan boxer Mohd Nooristani on Saturday in the round-of-16.
Super heavyweight boxer and Commonwealth Games champion Paramjeet Samota (+91 kg), in a stroke of luck and was propelled to the semi-finals stage of the tournament after getting a bye. But the burly Indian still has to win two more rounds to claim the single Olympic quota. His opening bout will be against Soumar Ghosoun of Syria on April 11.