2 Indian pugilists one bout away from Beijing; Vijender bites dust

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Chicago, Oct 28 (UNI) Vijender Singh's quest for an Olympic berth went up in smokes while Jitender Kumar and AL Lakra were just one bout away from booking a place for Beijing olympics on the fifth day of the World Boxing Championship here.

Vijender, who won bronze in Doha Asian Games in December last year, was considered the best bet for India in the first qualifying event of next year's Olympics.

But, the Haryana lad bite the dust against Blanco Alfonso of Venezuela 8-13 in a 75kg second round bout.

The Indian camp was, however, got the boost after victories by Jitender Kumar (51kg) and Anthresh Lalit Lakra (57kg) who stormed into pre-quarter finals, coming out 29-10 and 25-6 winners against Ronny Beblik of Germany and Karimov Bahodir of Tajikistan in their second round bouts at the at the University of Illinois-Chicago Pavilion yesterday.

In the pre-quarter finals on Wednesday, Jitender will take on Russian Georgy Balakshin who outpunched Nurlan Aidarbek of Kyrgyzstan 25-11 in another second round bout.

Lakra's opponent in the pre-quarter final on Tuesday would be Shahin Imranov of Azerbaijan who beat Latvia's Valentine Morozov 19-14 in the second round.

Making it to quarterfinals of the championship -- the largest ever in history -- would be enough for the Indians to secure a berth in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Two other Indians -- Jai Bhagwan and Dilbag Singh -- are still in the fray in the championship and they have their second round bouts against Georgia's Vasil Qazishvili and Zoran Mitrovic of Serbia.

Balbir Singh (48kg), Jasveer Singh (81kg)and Suresh Singh (54kg) have already crashed out of the champoinship in the first round.

Jitender gave the Indian camp reasons to cheer by his superb performance to outplay his German rival. He raced to 8-4 lead after the first round, was 14-3 ahead after the second and 10-22 after the third.

Instead of taking it easy even after smelling victory, Jitender landed seven points in the final round while not giving anything away to his rival to emerge 29-10 winner.

Lakra was even more brilliant than Jitender in thrashing Karimov.

The Indian starightaway raced to 5-0 lead after the first round, was 12-2 up after second.

He was far superior to his Central Asian oponent but kept on relentless attack even after taking a huge lead before coming out 25-6 victorious.

The Indians, however, ended the day on a disappointing note with Vijender not being able to recover from a sluggish start and his South American opponent took a 4-1 in no time.

The second round was evenly contested with both the pugilists scoring two points each. The gap in score, however, kept on widening and after the third round, the Indian was trailing 6-11 and the writing was on the wall.

Vijender made an all out offensive in the final round but could not save himself from a disappointing loss.

Eight top pugilists in nine weight categories from 48kg to 81kg will qaulify for Beijing while top four will do so in the 91kg and +91kg categories. No Indian id competing in 91kg and +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.

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

UNI

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