Akhil stuns world champ, eyes gold

Indian boxer Akhil Kumar said he was confident of winning the gold in Beijing after he stunned world champion Sergey Vodopyanov in the 54 kg pre-quarters.

updated: August 18, 2008 16:56 IST
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New Delhi:

Indian boxer Akhil Kumar said he was confident of winning the gold medal in Beijing after he pulled off a major upset by stunning world champion Sergey Vodopyanov of Russia in the 54 kg pre-quarterfinal bout in the Olympics.

"It's not possible to assure you of the gold but I can tell you that I'm here to win only gold," said the boxer brimming with confidence and determination.

"I know things would not be easier, in fact it would get even more difficult from now onwards. But I'm here to do my job and return with the gold. If luck decides the outcome, I may return with the bronze. But if confidence is the determining factor, gold is mine," he thundered.

The fiercely fought match was awarded to the Haryana pugilist by the judges on points after the scores were level 9-9 at the end of four rounds.

The 27-year-old Indian trailed almost till the final moments but staged a remarkable turnaround through a wonderful display of aggression, accuracy and technique in the penultimate and final rounds.

After being down 1-2 in the first round, 3-4 in the second and 7-8 in the third, Akhil held his nerves and unleashed a flurry of straight punches, two of them bang on target.

The five-judge jury then decided in favour of the Indian, leaving a stunned World Champion in tears as he clutched his head in disbelief and refused to shake hands with Akhil after the bout.

"It was not easy, for he is the world champion but once I levelled the score, I knew I cannot lose," said Akhil, bathed in sweat.

Coach G S Sandhu was effusive in praise for his ward and said, "Only Akhil can do that. He was all along confident and he proved that it was not mere wishful thinking on his part. We are so proud of him.

"The job, however, is not done yet, even though the win would fill him with more confidence. Trailing 2-6, few would have come out winner but he managed that. He is supremely confident and knows what he is going to do."

Akhil will play his quarterfinal match on Monday.