Incheon: Critics of a controversial decision to dispense with headguards in amateur boxing headguards were given more ammunition Monday when Pakistan's Muhammad Waseem claimed an Asian Games medal just seconds into his quarter-final.
Flyweight Waseem and Azat Usenaliev accidentally clashed heads moments after the starting bell with the Krygyzstan boxer suffering a nasty gash above his eye. Unable to continue, the referee had no option but to stop the fight with just 28 seconds gone and award Waseem a technical knockout win. Waseem advances to the semi-finals where he will face Uzbekistan's Shakhobidin Zoirov and is thus guaranteed a at least a bronze medal.
The International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA) discarded headguards last year in a bid to align more closely with the professional game. Britain's former Olympic silver medallist Amir Khan has been critical of the new regulation saying fighters need protection. "Headguards need to come back," Khan told AFP at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow last month. "Especially when you've got fighters who are fighting nearly five times a week." Several fights in Incheon have had to be stopped for cuts caused by accidental head clashes, which were rare with headguards.
If it is a deliberate butt then the referee is obliged to disqualify the offender if either boxer is unable to continue. If it is an accident then the scorecards up to that point are used to decide the winner. But when it happens just seconds into a bout the referee has no option but to award a TKO against the boxer unable to fight on as no scores will have been recorded. The other semi-final will be between Shota Hayashida of Japan and Ilyas Suleimenov of Kazakhstan who both came through their quarter-finals on points and without mishap.