Akhil Kumar loses to Gojan in quarterfinal

India's Akhil Kumar has been knocked out of quarterfinal event in Beijing.

updated: August 22, 2008 09:00 IST
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Boxer Akhil Kumar on Monday failed to win a tactical bout dashing hopes of first Olympic medal from the ring in Beijing but he lavished praises on his opponent Gojan Veaceslav.

Akhil Kumar was stranded on the cusp of history and his dream of becoming India's first Olympic boxing medal winner lay in tatters as he lost rather tamely his 54kg bout against unheralded Moldovan Gojan Veaceslav 3-10 in the quarterfinal.

India's hopes of a boxing medal now rest on Jitender (51kg) and Vijender (75kg) who fight their quarterfinal bouts on Wednesday.

The all-out aggression of Akhil, who had upset world champion Russian Sergey Vodopyanov, could not penetrate Gojan's solid defence and the Moldovan virtually snatched the match from the Indian in the third round.

On the other hand, Gojan's strategy was to remain in a defensive shell and break out occasionally to land the punches on target to reel off the points. And he succeeded immensely.

Akhil did not get points for a few early punches and once the Moldovan took the lead, the Indian just could not close the gap.

Gojan landed the first blow on Akhil and that was probably an ominous sign of things to come. Akhil managed to go for the breather at 1-1 and after second round, both were tied at 2-2.

Gojan proved his tactical superiority in the third round as he never lowered his guard but still managed to land his blows, penetrating Akhil's porous defence.

Desperate to induce the Moldovan into attack and open up his defence, Akhil completely dropped his guard, inviting his rival to come out of his cocoon but the Moldovan was smart enough to walk into that trap.

Trailing 2-6 and with just one round to go, Akhil virtually chased Gojan all over the ring but the evasive Moldovan managed to score a few points in the final round to complete a convincing, even if unimpressive, win.

"I have nothing to say against scoring system or Gojan's strategy. I guess I would have done the same and protected the lead had I been in his place," Akhil said after the bout.

"Boxing may be a four-round game but fortunes are made in the first two rounds. And once you manage to take a lead, it's all about protecting the lead. Gojan didn't do anything wrong," said Akhil.

"Anyway, I have no excuse to offer. It was simply not my day, even though I tried my best. I think the scoreline could have been different in the first round and that could have been crucial for me," he rued.

Coach G S Sandhu was equally upset with the outcome and he too felt Akhil probably was denied a few crucial points in the first round.