Moscow, Dec 11: Akhil Kumar gave India a resounding start at the inaugural AIBA boxing World Cup, out-punching Germany's Marcel Schneider 15-6 to enter the bantam weight semi-finals and assure himself of a medal on Wednesday.
The 27-year-old Indian will be up against Beijing Olympics silver medallist Yankiel Leon Alarcon of Cuba in the semi-finals on December 13. The Cuban beat Botswana's Khumiso Ikgopoleng 7-0 in the other last eight bout.
Today's win has not just assured Akhil of a bronze medal but also $2,500 in prize money. "I was slightly nervous to start with because the first bout is always crucial. He (Schneider) was not attacking and I also stuck to counter-punching. I kept my guard down, like I usually do and gained in confidence as the bout progressed," Akhil said after the bout.
Akhil, who was a quarter-finalist in Beijing, was in rampaging mood and didn't allow his opponent to land a single scoring punch in the first round, at the end of which he led 4-0.
The diminutive counter-puncher built on the lead in the next two rounds, scoring seven points. Though Schneider managed to hold his own in the third and fourth rounds by landing six blows, Akhil's first-round lead gave him a comfortable six-point cushion.
The final round belonged to the Haryana-boxer, who picked up three more points to complete the formalities. "The coaches -- GS Sandhu and Jaidev Bisht -- asked me to keep moving around the ring at good pace and that did the trick for me. My fitness is nowhere near what it was during the Beijing Olympics but it is good," said Akhil.
"My target is the gold medal. The bronze and silver medals are the ones you get by luck. Next up for me is a Cuban boxer and though he is formidable, I am ready for the challenge," he said.
Among the other bantam weight results, world champion and local favourite Sergey Vodopyanov, whom Akhil beat in the second round of Beijing Olympics, scored a comfortable 13-7 win over Uzbek Hoorshid Tojibaev.
Vodopyanov next faces Beijing bronze medallist Veaceslav Gojan of Moldova, who defeated Azerbaijan's Rahim Najafov 15-7.