Debutant L Devendro Singh (49kg) and Commonwealth Games gold medallist Manoj Kumar (64kg) cemented their place in the 2012 London Olympics by advancing to the quarter-finals of the 2011 AIBA World Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan on Tuesday.
It was another power packed performance by the duo, who became the first Indian pugilists to have sealed a place in mega-event next year. While Manoj edged past China's Qing Hu with a well calculated and a pragmatic approach, Devendro continued to rampage his higher ranked and more experienced opponents, this time triumphing over 7th seed Carlos Quipo of Ecuador.
But Asian Games silver medallist Dinesh Kumar (81kg) missed his chance to qualify for the Olympics after having lost to Commonwealth gold-medallist Damien Hooper of Australia.
Kumar, playing in the light welter weight division went up against a much taller Qing. The Chinese boxer took full advantage of his height and Manoj found it difficult connect his punches; he was down a three point deficit after the opening round of play (3:6). But the India?s boxer?s strategy of blocking and attacking allowed him to get inside Qing?s long reaching arms and score a few crucial points. Qing, who seemed to be losing energy quickly, resorted to continuously holding his opponent, for which he was given two warning. The cautions helped the Indian?s cause of levelling the scores and taking the lead. The last few minutes of the bout saw Manoj capitalize on Qing?s misfortunes as he went to secure a 17:15 victory and with it a place in the last eight of his weight class.
Devendro, playing in the light fly weight division continued his purple patch at the Championships with another scintillating performance. Up against 2010 American Continental Champion Carlos Quipo, the 19 year old with his lightning fast punches and equally good footwork quickly amassed a 5:2 lead. The Ecuador boxer came back strongly in the second round, but Devendro held on to his lead managed to add one more point to the tally. The final round and both the boxers came hard at each other, but the nifty Manipur lad, with swift combinations managed to hold on to his lead and gain crucial points once again. In the end he clinched the victory and along with it an Olympic berth with a score of 18:12.
It was a bad day at office for the 2009 Asian Championship bronze medallist and 12th seed Dinesh Kumar. The light heavy weight boxer was completely at bay against his swifter opponent Damien Hooper. The 23 year old Indian could not match up to the pace of the Australian boxer who led throughout the bout. In the end Dinesh bowed out of the tournament with a 7:16 defeat.
The evening session of play will witness the last two Indian boxers in the fray take to the ring in the round of 16. Asian Games gold medallist Vikas Krishnan (69kg) will take on Onder Sipal of Turkey while Commonwealth Games bronze-medallist Jai Bhagwan (60kg) will square up against European Championship quarter-finalist and seventh seed David Joyce of Ireland.