Boxing: India begins on disappointing note

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Chicago, Oct 24: India began on a disappointing note with Suresh Singh biting the dust against David Oltvanyi of Hungary in the bantamweight (54kg) first round bout on the first day of the World Boxing Championship here.

National champion Suresh held on to his own for a while but succumbed to the superiority of his opponent to lose 4-9 on points in a low-scoring bout at the University of Illinois-Chicago Pavilion yesterday.

With this loss, only seven Indians remain in the fray in the Championship, which also serves as the first qualification tournament for Beijing Olympics.

Another national champion Som Bahadur Pun (64kg) could not come here after suffering from jaundice while preparing for the Military World Games in Hyderabad last week.

Balbir Singh (48kg), Jitender Kumar (51kg), AL Lakra (57kg), Jai Bhagwan (60kg), Dilbag Singh (69kg), Vijender Singh (75kg) and Jasveer Singh (81kg) are yet to start their bouts in this 12-day tournament.

Vijender and Lakra have their first round bouts tonight (Indian time) against Ju Min-Jae of Korea and Ronald Gavril of Romania respectively while the other five will take the ring tomorrow night (Indian time).

Balbir begins his first round fight against Birzham Zhakypov of Kazakhstan, Jitender opens against Igori Samoilenko of Moldova, Jai Bhagwan faces Velertino Knowles of Bahamas, Dilbag takes on Roman Skerlo of Lithuania and Jasveer is up against Zhang Xiaoping of China.

Top eight finishers -- all the quarter-finalists -- in the nine weight categories from 48kg to 81kg qualify for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, as do the top four in the heavyweight (91kg) and super heavyweight (+91kg) classes.

Majority of the 650 plus boxers, including the Indians, will have three rounds before quarter-finals while some others have only two en-route to last eight round, as they got byes in yesterday's draw.

Fifty one bouts were completed on the opening day but the shock of the day was Doha Asian Games and 2004 Olympic gold medalist Manus Boonjumnong of Thailand being out punched by Masatsugu Kawachi of Japan 9-14 in a 64kg light welterweight match up.

In other important bouts, 2004 Olympic bronze medalist Gheorge Ionut of Romania won by walkover over Rafael Gonzalez of Venezuela while in a battle of fellow former World Championships bronze medalists, Ali Hallab of France won a 31-21 verdict over Detelin Dalakliev of Bulgaria.

Earlier, legendary boxer Muhammed Ali made a surprise appearance in the opening ceremony on Monday night.

The October 23 to November 3 event is attracting some 650 top pugilists from 120 countries, including past world amateur champions and 11 medalists from recent Olympic Games, making it the largest ever boxing championships.

Heading the list of top pugilists are 2004 Athens Olympic Games gold medalists Bakhtiyar Artayev of Kazakhstan in 75kg, Alexei Tishchenko of Russia in 60kg, besides Manus Boonjumong of Thailand and a host of other champions from previous amateur world championships and continental championships.

Country-wise, China, Kazakhstan, Russia and Belarus are expected to do well in the Championship held every two years under the aegis of AIBA (Association Internationale de Boxe Amateur).

UNI

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