New Delhi:Olympic bronze medallist Vijender Singh continued his rampaging form to sail into the semi-finals and join six other Indians who have booked a medal each for themselves in the Asian Boxing Championships in Zhuhai, China.
Vijender out-punched Kyrgyzstan's Karipov Ruslan 19-4 in the middle weight quarter-finals to assure himself of at least a bronze in the event where he had clinched a silver medal in the previous edition.
"I think I am on my way to getting a gold medal now which India has not won here for the past 15 years," the Haryana boxer, who takes on China's Zhang Jian Ting in the semis.
"The boxer I beat today had ousted an Kazakh Olympian in his previous bout and it feels great to advance after getting the better of tough opponents," he added.
Fly weight (51kg) national champion Suranjoy Singh also entered the medal rounds after beating Pak Jong Chol of DPR Korea 5-1. The 22-year-old from Manipur will be up against Thailand's Olympian Ruenrotng Amnaj on Friday.
"It was low-scoring but Suranjoy was clearly the better of the two boxers in technique and foot movement. We have the highest number of boxers in the semi-finals at this stage and everyone here is amazed," an elated national coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu said.
However, it was heartbreak for Chhote Lal Yadav (57kg) and Vijender's cousin Balwinder (64kg), both of whom lost close bouts.
Chhote lost 3-4 to Thailand's Masuk Wuttichai, while 18-year-old Balwinder fell short in the countback against Karami Houman of Iran after both the boxers had ended 4-4 in the regulation three rounds.
"We thought we had won the bouts but Chhote and Balwinder didn't have the luck. It was so disappointing. It's so hard on the boys. Chhote was shattered because we seriously thought that he had pulled it off," said Sandhu.
Vijender, who had won a bronze medal at a European Grand Prix event in Czech Republic last month, however had no such worries.
He put up a clinical performance taking a 6-1 lead in the very first round with some hard-hitting upper-cuts and hooks.
His opponent's frustration at being unable to break Vijender's defence began to show in the next two rounds and resulted in him getting a couple of warnings for rough play.
"Since I dominated the bout, his tactics didn't matter to me. Bottom line is I won and that too comprehensively," Vijender said.
The other five Indians to have already made the semis are Thokchom Nanao Singh (48kg), Jitender Kumar (54kg), Jai Bhagwan (60kg), Dinesh Kumar (81kg) and Paramjit Samota (+91kg).
"It's a fantastic performance. My boys have beaten boxers from some of the top countries and who knows we might even get the team championship this time," said Sandhu.
India had won five medals, a silver and four bronze, at the Asian Championships the last time around.