Indian boxer Gaurav Solanki put up a valiant fight but lost his Asian boxing Olympic qualifiers men’s featherweight round-of-16 match to World Champion Mirazizbek Mirzakhalilov of Uzbekistan.
The boxer from Faridabad had defeated Akylbek Esenbek Uulu in the round of 32 earlier to earn his spot in Saturday’s bout but a decisive performance from Mirzakhalilov put an end to his campaign.
A narrow loss and a commendable comeback
The first round was characterised by a good number of body shots from both men.
Gaurav Solanki put up a strong performance, landing his fair share of body shots. However, Mirzakhalilov was deemed to have connected on more occasions than Solanki, with the score reflecting a unanimous victory for the Uzbek in the first round.
The Indian pugilist got the second round going with a good right hand to the body while countering Mirzakhalilov effectively. Signs of desperation soon seemed to be creeping in for the Uzbek, with the referee having to step in on two occasions during the fight.
Undeterred, Gaurav Solanki seized his opportunities, with punches to the body burying Mirzakhalilov in the ropes.
Following up right-handed punches to the body with hooks from the left flank, Gaurav Solanki maintained the edge over his opponent to end the second round 4-1.
Gaurav Solanki’s final falter
With both men carrying 19 points apiece into the third and final round, the contest hung in the balance between the two skilful operators.
Unfortunately for Gaurav Solanki, the Uzbek dominated his opponent for the larger part of the round. Delivering a left hook to the body, Mirzakhalilov followed it up with quick left uppercuts and some jolting jabs.
Gaurav Solanki managed to connect with a few heavy left hooks near the end but the round belonged to the Uzbek, as the judges also agreed, declaring him the winner by a 4-1 split.
Speaking exclusively to the Olympic Channel, Gaurav Solanki said, “I think I have to work on my strength in close situations.”
When asked about what it felt like to face a world champion like Mirzakhalilov, Solanki said, “I regarded my opponent as just another competitor, and I played my game that way.”
Gaurav Solanki will now have to hope to make it into the 2020 Olympics via the world qualifiers in Paris on 13-24 May 2020.
Magnificent Mary Kom up next
Later in the evening, Mary Kom will take to the ring for the first time in the Asian boxing Olympic qualifiers, as she takes on New Zealand’s Benny Tasmyn in the first round.
Due to being of an ineligible age by the time the 2024 Olympics rolls around, this will be Mary Kom's final Olympic attempt, and with just two wins separating her from qualifying for the 2020 Olympics, she will be determined to make the day’s fight count.
When and where to watch the Asian boxing Olympic qualifiers
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