Feature

My Greatest Game: When Vikas Krishan exorcised the ghost of London at Rio

Stung by his unusual exit at London 2012, Vikas Krishan even thought of quitting boxing but he returned stronger at Rio 2016.

By Rahul Venkat ·

Vikas Krishan has never been short of confidence.

Be it in his fledgling pro boxing career – where he has won at the famed Madison Square Garden in the USA - or his open declaration to dominate opponents, the Indian boxer always comes across as a force to be reckoned with.

But even a character like Vikas Krishan was left heartbroken after the manner of his exit from his maiden Olympics at London 2012.

The then 20-year-old Vikas Krishan, up against USA’s Errol Spence in the welterweight division, had been awarded the tie 13-11.

However, on reviewing the video footage after the bout, the International Boxing Association (AIBA) decided that the Indian boxer had committed fouls that had gone unnoticed by the referee.

AIBA eventually decided to award Errol Spence four points for Krishan’s infringements, which gave the American a 15-11 victory. It was an unusual way for Vikas Krishan to exit his debut Olympics and the Indian boxer even briefly considered giving up the sport.

However, he soon shunned that thought and buckled down to prepare himself for the next Olympics.

Once Vikas Krishan had qualified for Rio 2016, he had only one thing in mind – he did not want to leave any bout to chance, his main aim being to earn victories by unanimous decisions.

And American Charles Conwell found that out the hard way in their Round of 32 bout.

“My win was reversed in 2012, so there was some pressure on me to do well against another American. I think the fight against Conwell was a great one for me personally,” Vikas Krishan told the Olympic Channel.

An underdog victory

Vikas Krishan may have been making his second Olympic Games appearance at Rio 2016 and up against an 18-year-old rookie in Charles Conwell, the Indian boxer was by no means the favourite.

Krishan had moved up a category - to the middleweight division - and Charles Conwell, touted to be the next big thing, had arrived at Rio unbeaten in the Olympic qualifiers.

“I remember there being some discussions about how Conwell had won 12 or 13 bouts in succession and how I may not be powerful enough to deal with him because of the weight change,” Vikas Krishan reminisced.

“But all that it did was fuel my desire to beat him. If anything, it made me even more determined.”

It showed on the day of the bout.

The Indian boxer used his superior height to land some solid punches at Charles Conwell and take the first round. Vikas Krishan was equally dominant in the second round as he effortlessly dodged Conwell’s attacks.

“I stuck to my plan of moving from side-to-side. In the second round, I felt the decision could be split at one point, so I decided to attack more, which was an adjustment I had to make,” Krishan revealed.

“That day, my right hand was not feeling too strong, else I would have also landed some hooks. But in the end, it was not needed.”

Though Charles Conwell gave it all in the third round, Vikas Krishan had enough momentum to see it out and won the bout 3-0. He had fulfilled his ambition and announced himself in style.

Vikas Krishan would go on to unanimously beat Turkey’s Onder Sipal in the Round of 16 before falling to eventual silver medallist Bektemir Melikuziev in the quarter-finals.

He had been stopped one step short of earning an Olympic medal but Vikas Krishan has another shot at the Tokyo Olympics later this year.

The Indian boxer, who put his pro boxing career on hold to pursue the Olympic gold, is more mature, tactically prepared, and more confident than ever that he will achieve his dream at the third time of asking.