Akhil bows out of Commonwealth Boxing Championships

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> Commonwealth Games and championship gold-medallist Akhil Kumar (56kg) crashed out following a stunning loss in the quarterfinals but Jai Bhagwan (60kg) and Aman

Updated: March 14, 2010 14:28 IST
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New Delhi :

Commonwealth Games and championship gold-medallist Akhil Kumar (56kg) crashed out following a stunning loss in the quarterfinals but Jai Bhagwan (60kg) and Amandeep Singh (49kg) assured themselves of at least a bronze on a mixed day for Indian boxers in the Commonwealth Championships here on Sunday.

Akhil went down 6-12 to 20-year-old Englishman Iain Weaver, who is competing in his first major senior international tournament since graduating from the youth level last year.

However, Amandeep, a South Asian Games gold medallist, out-punched Tanzania's Rajabu O Mbwana 9-1, while Jai got the better of Scot Josh Taylor 7-1 to cheer up the Indian camp.

But the day brought in another disappointment when Manpreet Singh (+91kg) lost to Scot Stephen Simmons.

The most anticipated bout of the day was Akhil's but much to the disappointment of the crowd, the 28-year-old ended up on the losing side.

It was a closely contested affair until the second round by the end of which, the Indian trailed by just a point.

Fighting with his trademark open guard, Akhil raced to a 3-0 lead with a few straight jabs in the first three minutes.

It went neck and neck thereafter as Akhil's attempts at landing uppercuts failed to fetch him the points.

Weaver scored on counter-punches and rarely left his guard low. As Akhil's frustration mounted, the baby-faced Englishman continued to mix caution with aggression stretching a one-point lead to five by the end of the final three minutes.

"My uppercuts just didn't get the score. I fail to understand why. Every blow above the belt gets you points, why I didn't get for my uppercuts baffles me," a disappointed and agitated Akhil, who won a gold in the 2005 edition of the event, said after the bout.

The loss also highlighted the sheer lack of understanding of international rules among the coaching staff.

As a dejected Akhil complained that Weaver was not warned by the referee despite his gum-shield falling off during the bout, a baffled national coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu initially agreed with the boxer but later clarified that a warning is issued only when the gum-shield falls off more then once.

Weaver, meanwhile, said he had done his homework on Akhil before coming to the competition.

"He is a very good boxer. He is more experienced then me and it is certainly one of the biggest wins of my career," said the diminutive boxer, who took to boxing as he "wasn't any good at football".

Earlier, Amandeep had no trouble getting past Mbwana. The 22-year-old national champion fought from a distance and used a combination of hooks and jabs to unsettle his rival, who was literally scurrying for cover by the second round.

Mbwana was even penalised a couple of points for holding the Indian too often in his effort to avoid getting hit.

Later, Asian Championship silver medallist Jai hardly broke a sweat in beating Taylor. Both the boxers took a long time to get a measure of each other but once Jai connected a powerful right hook towards the end of the first round, the bout swung in his favour.

"I fought to my plan and combined good defence with some powerful uppercuts," Jai said.

However, Manpreet couldn't give Simmons much of a fight as he went down 1-6.

In other prominent bouts, Olympic bronze medallist Bruno Julie (56kg) lived up to his top billing as he out-classed Singapore's Muhammad Solihin. Julie will face Weaver in the semis and 31 years of age, the Mauritian is 11 years senior to the spunky Englishman.

India are assured of five medals in the competition as Olympic and World Championship bronze medallist Vijender Singh (75kg) and Paramjeet Samota, along with Suranjoy Singh (52kg) and Dinesh Kumar (81kg), have already made the semifinals to be played on Monday.

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