Beijing, Aug 16: India’s medal hope at Beijing, Akhil Kumar, produced a major upset when he devastated world champion Sergey Vodopyanov’s optimism in the pre-quarterfinals. The Indian boxer thus moved into the quarterfinals of the 54 kg category raising Indian hopes even more.
Sergey Vodopyanov started on a high when he led 3-1 in the first round. Akhil Kumar who trailed 3-6 at the end of round 2, bounced back in the third and fourth round to give Sergey a run for his money.
After the fourth round, the boxers were locked 9-9, but the judges gave the bout to Akhil for landing more punches than the Russian. The decision shattered the reigning world champion in tears as Akhil did a celebratory jig in the ring at the Workers Gymnasium. The Indian is now just a bout away from an Olympic medal.
“He (Sergey) is a world champion. It was a tough fight, but I am here to win gold. No silver, no bronze, but only the gold. There is nothing like being No.1 and I want to be No. 1,” said Akhil, a 2006 Commonwealth Games gold medallist.
Indian coach Gurbaksh Singh was also pleased with Akhil's performance. “He (Akhil) is a classy boxer, just look at his determination and thoughts. I am delighted at his victory.”
Besides, Akhil, two other Indian boxers Vijender Kumar (75kg) and Jitender Kumar (51kg) are still in the hunt and have the pre-quarters bout Saturday.
Akhil registered a fine 12-5 win over former World Championship bronze medallist Frenchman Ali Hallab in the first round.
Akhil had beaten 2004 Olympic silver medallist Worapoj Pitchkoom of Thailand in February to qualify for the Olympics. He was adjudged the best boxer at the Asian Olympic Qualifiers.
Akhil has been in great form of late, winning three medals in the four international events he has participated in, since the 2006 Commonwealth Games.