Beijing, Aug 18 (UNI) Akhil Kumar's hopes of an Olympic medal lay shattered on the ring of Workers' Gymnasium as he was out pointed by unheralded Veaceslav Gojan of Moldova 3-10 in the 54 kg (Bantam) bout of the Boxing competition here today.
Akhil, who on his way to the last eight had beaten World Champion Sergey Vodopoyanov failed to cross the last frontier because a win in this round would have assured him of a medal.
The Indian was caught totally off guard by the solid defensive strategy of his rival, in fact the overconfidence also played no small role in Akhil's defeat.
It turned out to be a bout of two different tactics, the Indian was more open and aggressive while his rival was guarded and remained defensive throughout but came up with points with lightning counter punches.
The sign of things to come were clear from the very first round in which despite unleashing flurry of punches and jabs, Akhil could not break his rival's tight defence.
On the other hand, Gojan surprised the Indian with a punch which fetched him a point but the Bhiwani puglist found a chink in Moldovan's armoury just before the end of the round to take a point and went into the next round 1-1.
The Indian continued with his tactics of open attack and managed a point with another punch to go up 2-1 but could not hold on to that advantage as Gojan with a clever ploy got Akhil lower the guard and scored a point and the second round ended 2-2.
Gojan now became bit open but never lowered his guard, he continued seizing his rival's tactics and then landed two punches in space of 15 seconds to take two points exactly midway through this round and then added two more points before the round closed to take a formidable 6-2 lead.
The Indian fans had still not given up, they hoped that Akhil will repeat his amazing come back which he had done against the World champion Sergey in his second round bout, but today was a medal round and Moldovan was not Sergey.
The under rated Gojan had a lesson or two for exuberant Akhil in the last round in which he garnered five points in less than 63 seconds while conceding one to emerge an emphatic winner.
The Indian for the first time in this competition found a rival who was as hard as nail, who gave nothing in return and hardly boxed for the galleries.
His style of fight was not very attractive as he held back his punches but when he used them, they had a lethal impact.
Akhil looked more attractive, he attacked left right and centre, hit punches all over his rival's body except on the places which would have fetched him points.
''I boxed my way,'' Gojan told UNI through an interpreter and added that he did not see any video of his rival before this bout.
His manager said, ''Gojan is a very strong boxer, he proved it here, there is no need to see videos because he knew how Indian boxed in earlier bout.'' Akhil said, ''It was not my day, I tried my best, I watched Gojan's video but I could not match him in this bout.
''Well, win is a win and medal is a medal, I failed winning the bout and in the process lost the medal,'' he said but added, ''If I can celebrate my win, I can also take the defeat.'' He said, ''in boxing, first two rounds virtually decide the bout because once you take the lead you start protecting it and this is what Gojan did and I would have done the same if I had been in his position.'' He said now his task is to see the two other boxers - Jitender and Vijender win the medals and added that, ''not only them (boxers) but I will also cheer the wrestlers and the athletes and encourage them to win a medal.'' Coach G S Sandhu however, had a different view on Akhil's defeat saying that the boxer did not get his points in the first round.
''Akhil landed the punches but those were not counted,'' Sandhu asserted and added, ''I am very unhappy with the result because Akhil had beaten the World champion and now lost to an unheralded boxer.'' However, Sandhu expressed confidence that the remaining two boxers in quarter finals - Jitender and Vijender - will win a medal each.
UNI HSB RAR ND1828