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Indian boxers on verge of history, 3 in final, 2 finish with bronze

Written by: Staff
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Melbourne, Mar 23 (UNI) Indian boxers were on the verge of creating history as three of them stormed into the finals of the Commonwealth Games here today.

India has so far won only one gold in Commonwealth Games boxing competition and that was in 2002 at Manchester when Mohd Ali Qamar emerged winner.

Now three Indians -- Akhil Kumar (54 kg), Vijender (69kg) and Harpreet Singh (91 kg) -- have booked their berths in the final and more than one boxer are likely to return with a gold from the ring.

India have already earned two bronze in the competition, though the formal announcement will be made only on the day of finals (March 25), as Jitender Kumar (51 kg) and Verghese Johnson (+91kg) lost their semifinal bouts tonight.

Harpreet was the most devastating Indian boxer in action this evening. The 27-year-old Punjab-based pugilist knocked out Fitzgerald Anderson Emmanuel of Barbados in iust 35 seconds.

In the 91 kg bout, the Indian hit his rival in the very first attack and then hit such a powerful punch that Emmanuel crashed on the floor and did not get up. The fight was over in a jiffy.

Twentyfive-year-old national champion Akhil Kumar recorded a very close 26-24 win over Nigeria's Nestor Bolum in 54 kg bout.

Akhil started with flourish and led 8-5 in the first round, before the Nigerian struck back with vengence to narrowly win the second round 6-5.

The lead again changed with the Indian coming up with some good punches to collect valuable points and win the third round 6-5.

However, the Nigerian fought back true and well in the last round and looked like winner, but Akhil steadied himself and unleashed some good blows which earned him a couple of very valuable points which turned out to be the winner. Bolum won the round 8-7, but four round total gave the Indian a two point edge over his rival and enable him to book a passage into final.

Akhil takes on Mauritius's Bruno Richard Louis in the title clash.

Vijender outpointed Neil Perkins of England 22-14 in 69 kg semifinal. The bout saw an aggressive Indian fighthing a defensive Englishman.

However, the 21-year-old Vijender proved more resourceful than his rival and, after some prodding, he opened up in the last two rounds and just outpointed Perkins.

The two boxers were tied 7-7 at the end of two rounds, but once Vijender got a hang of the things, he just unleashed powerful punches rattling his rival. Perkins stayed put in the fight for the third round but then threw in the towel in the last in which Vijender outpointed him 10-3.

Vijender's rival in the summit clash will be South Africa's Bongani Mwelase.

However, the last bout of the night was full of surprise and shock.

Varghese Johnson looked all set to surprise David Price in the +91 kg bout as he led in three rounds 5-2, 8-6, 7-3 thereby taking an aggregate lead of 20-11 at the end of the penultimate round.

But, Price staged an unprecedented comeback in the last round and fighting like a man possessed, he hammered and pounded the Indian like a maniac.

Johnson was totally shaken and suddenly started looking for cover. Price ran after him like a hungry tiger and a fulsome punch felled on the Indian. Verghese got up but again his rival stunned him with another powerful punch that landed on his face and at this stage referee intervened to stop the contest.

In the 51 kg bout, Jitender Kumar went down to Gareth Don Broadhurst of England on points 26-31 in a slow paced bout.

UNI HSB PDS RS1827

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