Rio de Janeiro : Manoj Kumar created a major upset as he ousted London Olympics bronze-medalist Evaldas Petrauskas 2-1 to enter the pre-quarterfinals...
Rio de Janeiro : Manoj Kumar created a major upset as he ousted London Olympics bronze-medalist Evaldas Petrauskas 2-1 to enter the pre-quarterfinals of the 64kg category in the Olympic Boxing competition here. Manoj, who is the second Indian boxer to win his opening bout after Vikas Krishan’s victory in 75 kg category yesterday, had to wage a grim battle against the marauding Lithuania before emerging winner.
“I am not a talented boxer, I am a hard working pugilist” said Manoj after the win. The Indian, who was the last boxer to qualify for the Olympics, managed to ward off Lithuanian’s fierce challenge in the third round to record a shock win. Manoj, a Commonwealth Games gold-medalist, kept his cool and displayed nerves of steel while facing the intense aggression displayed by the Lithuanian Petrauskas in all three rounds. The Indian faces the fifth-seeded Uzbek Fazliddin Gaibnazarov in the pre-quarters, scheduled for Sunday. Evenly-matched on pace and agility, Manoj and Petrauskas were quite distinct in their attacking approach.
Petrauskas, who had won the 2012 Olympics bronze winner in the lightweight 60kg division, went on the offence from the very start and tried to engage the Indian from close range, Manoj preferred to back-peddle and hit from a distance. "You don't get time to think as much in the ring," Manoj said after the bout. "I was responding to his punching style in the ring, you have to adapt your strategy to how your opponent in the ring is boxing. " At the end of the opening three minutes, it was Manoj's tactics that found favour with the judges, who awarded the first round to him. Petrauskas went flat out attacking the Indian in the second round but the Indian managed to stave off the challenge by sticking to his strategy of keeping a distance and hitting occasional uppercuts to his opponent's body.
Both boxers repeated the tactics which they had displayed in the first two rounds as they showed no inclination to make any change to their strategy in the last round although the desperate attacks launched by Petrauskas did unnerve Manoj to an extent. The pumped-up effort secured Petrauskas the final round, but it was not enough to turn the bout in his favour as Manoj was adjudged the winner. "I was happy to have pulled the bout off. I knew he was a hard opponent but I hadn't spent much time studying him," Manoj said.
"I prefer not to do too much tactical planning away from the ring because if it doesn't come off you aren't sure how to respond. So it is best to leave it to the ring. "I am confident that the hard work I have put in all these years will work in my favour at the Olympics. " However Manoj's coach G S Sandhu insisted that his boxer went with a plan. 'We knew what his rival was going to do, so accordingly chalked out the tactics.
Manoj listened to his coach with a bemused smile,' Sandhu said. “I could not change tactics because i am not that talented, I believe in myself and luck. I am lucky to win this bout” Manoj added. Shiva Thapa will open his campaign in the bantamweight (56kg) category.