World No.1 Amit Panghal suffers shock exit; Pooja Rani ousted

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Colombia Yuberjen Martinez (in blue) punches a blow to Amit Panghal at Tokyo Olympics.

Tokyo: In a major upset, Indian boxer Amit Panghal (52kg) suffered a tame 1-4 loss to Rio Games silver-medallist Yuberjen Martinez of Colombia on Saturday in a draining pre-quarterfinal.

The World No.1 Indian, making his Olympics debut, got a bye in the first round and was seeded top in the event. Touted as one of India’s medal hopes at the Tokyo Olympics, Panghal was on the backfoot straightaway but the Indian came back stronger to win the opening round 4-1.

The Pan-American champion, Martinez, upped the ante in the second foxing the Indian with his pace and also with relentless uppercuts. With Panghal finding it tough, Martinez took advantage of that to level the scores after the second round.

Tired and exhausted, Panghal went on a defensive mode in the final round allowing Martinez to go full throttle with no compromising on the intensity and eventually winning the game.

“They have sparred with each other. In some of them Amit was better than today but in others, it was similar to what happened today. It wasn’t a total surprise because we had seen that this guy is very dangerous,” Indian Boxing’s High-Performance Director Santiago Nieva said after the bout.

Meanwhile, Pooja Rani (75kg) joined Panghal on the day in exiting the Tokyo Olympics. The Indian went down 0-5 in her quarterfinal bout against China’s Li Qian. The Chinese, who is a former world champion and a Rio Olympics bronze-medallist, thoroughly outpunched Rani quite literally taking away her belief with a clinical performance.

Lovlina Borgohain has already assured herself a medal by making it to the women’s 69kg semifinals while Satish Kumar (91kg) is due for his quarterfinal bout. If everything goes well for Satish, he could be the first Indian male boxer after Vijender Singh to win an Olympics medal since 2008.

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