Akhil stuns World Champion; advances to quarters at Olympics

Beijing, Aug 15 (UNI) Brave hearted Akhil Kumar lived up to his promise as he staged the most fascinating come back, after trailing 2-6 to stun World champion Segey Vodopyanov (Russia) on points and moved into the third round of the 54 Kg (Bantam) category in the Olympic Boxing Championship here today.

One of the most experienced Indian boxers, Akhil Kumar known for his aggression and guile displayed his agility as he gave Indian fans some thing to celebrate on the Independence day.

The 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games gold medal winner, who qualified for his second Olympics at the first Asian qualifying event in Thailand, this evening justified his billing as a striong contender for the Gold.

''My aim is to win the Gold, whether I will win it or not depends on my luck, but I am fighting hard,'' a jubiliant boxer from Haryana told mediapersons after his stunning win.

Rated as the 'best boxer' at the Asian Olympic qualifying tournament in Bangkok this February, the Indian had shown character by outclassing Athens Olympics' silver medallist Worapoj Petchkoom of Thailand in the third round.

And today, he raised the bar as he out pointed heavily favoured Vodopyanov.

In an edge of the seat contest, the Russian and Akhil boxed cautiously in the first round trying to sort out each other.

The world champion, however, managed to land two punches on Akhil but could not avoid conceding one to his rival.

It was a roller coaster second round in which Russian unleasehed flurry of hooks and punches which unsettled Akhil and Vodopyanov jumped to what looked like an invincible 6-2 lead but with 20 second left for the round, Indian came back strongly delivering two good hooks to reduce the gap to 6-4.

In the penultimate round, it was Akhil who went after his rival as the Russian tried to avoid him.

The Indian realising that the Russian was playing for the time unleashed flurry of jabs and undercuts which helped in the final tally.

Russian was startled by such a brazen aggression from the Indian and tried to close his guard to save his lead but Akhil was unrelenting and the third round ended 3-2 in his favour.

Trailing 7-8, Akhil shed his guard and went flat out on the offensive which rattled the Russian who scurried around for cover but the Indian was in no mood to give up and with one straighter and then with an under cut he pulverised the Russian as the round ended at 2-1 in his favour.

With both tied at 9-9, the five judge jury's verdict went in favour of Akhil for having unleashed more punches on his rival.

''It is not going to be easy,'' Akhil said about his next bout, ''but I am very confident of winning the gold, God is with me and I have full faith in the Almighty.'' ''I was never overawed by the rival's reputation, I boxed my way and I know I can win which I did,'' he said.

Cuban Coach Fernandez was overjoyed with Akhil's win as he shouted, ''We have beaten the World Champion.'' A beaming chief coach G S Sandhu said this was the best win any Indian boxer has achieved so far, ''Akhil is a confident boxer, very determined and strong willed. His sharp hooks and power-packed punches are world class. He is an athlete who has the rare ability to come back strongly from a trailing positions.'' ''I had the confidence in him but even I was surprised the way he fought after he trailed 2-6 it is just out of the world performance,'' the coach added.


Story first published: Friday, August 15, 2008, 21:04 [IST]
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