Vijender, Lakra win in Word Boxing; on course for Olympic berth

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Chicago, Oct 25 (UNI) Vijender Singh and AL Lakra made a blazing start in their bid for Olympic qualification by scoring contrasting victories over their rivals in the first round bouts on the second day of the World Boxing Championship here.

Vijender did not have to exert much to send Romanian Ronald Gavril packing 25-14 in the 75kg while Lakra won a tough fight against Ju Min-jae of Korea 19-14 in 57kg at the University of Illinois-Chicago Pavilion yesterday.

Vijender, the best bet for booking a berth in Beijing next year, opened brilliantly with a flurry of ponits in the first and second rounds and did not exert in the next two to preserve himself for next bouts of the championship which also serves as the first qualification tournament for Beijing Olympics.

The Indian, who won bronze in Doha Asian Games, took 7-1 lead over his opponent after the first round and was up 15-4 after the second round.

With Vijender taking a bit easy, the Romanian scored more points in the third round but was still trailing 11-21 after it.

The Indian did not allow his opponent to do much in the final round to win the bout 25-14. He will face Alfonso Blanco of Venezuela in the next round on Saturday.

Lakra, however, did not have the luxury to take it easy against the Korean opponent althrough the fight.

He was up 3-1 after the first round, 7-6 and 13-11 after the second and third.

But, the Indian reserved his best for the final round and won three more points than his rival to walk away 19-14 winner. In the next round on Saturday, Lakra is up against Karimov Bahodir of Tajikistan.

Vijender and Lakra's victories came after Suresh Singh bite the dust on the opening day, losing to David Oltvanyi of Hungary in the bantamweight (54kg) first round bout.

Besides Vijender and Lakra, five other Indians remain in the fray in the Championship.

Balbir Singh (48kg), Jitender Kumar (51kg), Jai Bhagwan (60kg), Dilbag Singh (69kg) and Jasveer Singh (81kg) will take the ring tonight (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 -- 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. India will not compete in 91kg ansd +91kg categories.

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.

More than 650 top pugilists from 120 countries are vying for honours, making it the largest ever boxing championships.


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