Harpal Singh Bedi
New Delhi: Akash Kumar and Narender produced power-packed performances to storm into the quarter-finals of the AIBA Boxing Championships in Belgrade, Serbia on Sunday.
Akash outclassed Puerto Rico’s Caleb Tirado 5-0 in the 54kg Last-16 bout, Narender thrashed the former Asian Games champion veteran Tajikistan pugilist Jakhon Qurbonov by the Referee Stopping the Contest (RSC) verdict in the second round of the +92kg pre-quarterfinals contest.
Akash started the day for India on a winning note. Playing their first match in the competition, both the boxers began with an aggressive note and traded punches continuously in a highly busy first two rounds of the 54kg Last-16 bout. The 21-year-old Indian had received a walkover in his opening match while Tirado was given a bye in the first round.
The tallest among the two pugilists, Akash made good use of his height and landed some sharp punches to tilt the momentum in his favour. Having taken a comfortable lead after the first two rounds, Akash showed tactical brilliance and started maintaining distance in the final round which denied his opponent any chance to make a comeback into the match.
With these dominating triumphs, Akash and Narender are now a win away from confirming a medal for the country at the ongoing Championships.
Earlier, in the matches played late on Saturday, seasoned boxer Shiva Thapa made his way into the Last-16 stage with an easy 5-0 victory against John Brown in the 63.5kg round-of-32 contest.
The five-time Asian champion put up a dominating show against his opponent from Sierra Leone to continue his winning run at the tournament.Meanwhile, another Indian in action, Govind Sahani (48kg) ended his campaign in the pre-quarterfinals stage after suffering a 4-0 defeat against Georgia’s Sakhil Alakhverdovi. Sachin Kumar also went down fighting against USA’s Robby Gonzales in the 80kg Last-32 match.