Indian boxers began their Asian Games campaign on a winning note with Akhil Kumar (60kg) defeating Nepal's Purna Bahadur Lama via a technical knockout and Shiva Thapa (56kg) getting a walkover to enter the second round
Incheon: Comeback-man Akhil Kumar (60kg) pummelled his Nepalese rival Purna Bahadur Lama before notching up a Technical Knockout triumph while Shiva Thapa (56kg) merely had to show up to enter the second round as Indian boxers began their Asian Games campaign on a winning note here today.
Shiva was the first to step into the ring this afternoon and he did not have to do anything more as his opponent, Leonel Helo Prada of Timor Leste, gave him a walkover. Akhil, a former Commonwealth Games gold-medallist, was the next man in for India in the second half of the day and the 33-year-old showed no signs of rustiness while getting past Lama.
Pugilist Shiva Thapa is declared winner during preliminaries of the men's 56kg category boxing event at the 17th Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea on Wednesday. Thapa got a walk-over against Leonel Parada Helo of Timor Leste.
The Haryana-lad, who was returning to international competition after three years of injury-forced hibernation, was dominant from the word go. With his trademark open guard, the Indian went after his overtly cautious rival, who looked hesitant in attack and equally unsure in defence.
The opening round ended with Akhil leading Lama 30-24 after shaking him up with a flurry of uppercuts, targetting the Nepalese's torso. Lama faced the standing eight count twice during the opening three minutes itself.
The second round followed a similar script with Lama looking even more intimidated by his experienced rival. The Nepalese boxer faced one more standing eight count before Akhil sealed it 30-25.
It was halfway into the final three minutes when the referee decided that Lama had taken enough of a pounding and stopped the contest declaring Akhil the winner in a Technical Knockout.
Akhil has earned a round of 16 meeting with Filipino Charly Suarez on Friday. Suarez outpointed Uzbekistan's Eimur Abduraimov 2-1 (29-28, 28-29, 29-28).
The 20-year-old Thapa, world no. 3 and last year's gold medallist in the Asian Championship, has drawn Pakistan's Nadir as his round of 16 opponent. Nadir defeated Bhutan's Phub Sigyel 2-1.
Tomorrow, L Devendro Singh would fight against Kuwait's A Fahad in the men's 49kg class while Manoj Kumar's first bout would be against Japan's K Masatsugu in the 64kg division.
Boxing coach G S Sandhu was delighted with the way Akhil made his comeback into the ring. "It's a very good comeback. The last time he boxed at the international level I think was in the 2011 World Championships," Sandhu said.
The veteran coach was cautious about the senior boxer's prospects against his Filipino opponent. "His opponent is a good boxer and has defeated a very good boxer today. Let's see how it goes," said Sandhu.
On Thapa's next opponent, Sandhu said the Pakistan rival Nadir was also a good boxer but because of the trouble in the old Indian boxing officialdom, now replaced by Boxing India, the coaching staff have been unable to analyse strengths and weaknesses of the Indian boxers as they had been denied sufficient international exposure. "I can't predict how many medals India will get," he said.
About tomorrow's bouts, he said Manoj has drawn a strong opponent "who is also a bronze medal winner in the World Championships (2007)".
Photos: 'Dangal' girls Sanya Malhotra, Fatima Sana Shaikh's dinner outing
Photos: Salman Khan, Daisy Shah spotted at the Mumbai airport
Photos: Rakhi Sawant to play Honeypreet in Ram Rahim biopic
Photos: Arvind Kejriwal asks Kamal Haasan to join politics
Photos: TV actress who played goddesses on the small screen