Sachin Kumar, India’s other boxer who stepped in the ring in the morning, lost in his bout.
The morning session on Day 6 of the Asian boxing Olympic qualifiers in Amman, Jordan on Sunday saw two Indian pugilists book their spots for the 2020 Olympics.
Pooja Rani put on a commanding performance and demonstrated her class with an authoritative showing that saw her control her opponent in all three rounds. Vikas Krishan’s bout was more competitive with the Indian boxer using all his experience to dominate the second round of the bout en-route to a win.
The first bout of the day for the Indian boxing contingent at the Asian boxing Olympic qualifiers pitted Pooja Rani against Thailand’s Pornnipa Chutee in the welterweight (69-75 kg) quarter-final fight.
Pooja Rani, the reigning Asian light-heavyweight champion, set the tone of the fight early in the first round by getting the better of the Thai pugilist in the exchanges.
Pornnipa Chutee was boxing on the front foot but Pooja Rani showed her experience by baiting the Thai into the pocket for well-executed counters and stiff jabs to take the opening round 10-9 across the board.
The Indian welterweight continued to control proceedings in the second round as Pornnipa Chutee came out of her corner with an increased sense of urgency.
Unfortunately for Chutee, her change in strategy worked to her detriment as she ended up continually running into punches.
Even though Pornnipa Chutee did connect with a few right crosses, Pooja Rani’s powerful long jabs meant that she won the second round 5-0.
The defending Asian light-heavyweight champion opened the third round with a terrific southpaw left with the Thai boxer looking to continue to push forward, hoping for an unlikely finish.
Aware of Chutee’s desperate last round strategy and being well ahead on the scoreboard, the Indian boxer demonstrated her experience to close out the fight.
Pooja Rani looked to take away the sting from her opponent’s attacks with well-timed checks and clinches to win the last round as well and become the first Indian pugilist to earn a spot at the 2020 Olympics.
“Today is International Women’s Day as well and I’m the first Indian boxer to qualify,” Pooja Rani, who will box Li Qian in the semi-final, told the Olympic Channel after her win. “I’m also the first Indian woman boxer to qualify so I feel really great and I would also like to wish all women a very happy Women’s Day.”
Vikas Krishan’s bout in the Asian boxing Olympic qualifiers quarter-final with Quincy Okazawa of Japan was an action-packed fight with both boxers landing some heavy leather on the other.
A brisk start by Okazawa saw the third seed from Japan take the fight to Vikas Krishan, who initially tried to make use of his movement to swivel away and tag his opponent while doing so.
The Japanese pugilist pushed the pace throughout the first round and kept picking away at the Indian with his jab that seemed to work a treat.
Vikas Krishan did manage to get away body shots from time to time but Quincy Okazawa looked brighter even though the judges didn’t see it that way, giving the opening round to the Indian boxer 3-2.
The second round was a much better one for Vikas Krishan, who seemed to find his footing with some effective straight punches aimed at pushing the Japanese pugilist back.
Like in the first round, the third seed kept using his jabs incessantly to good effect but Vikas Krishan also started to connect with straight punches to the body more frequently than he did in the opening round.
He finished the second round on top with two particularly eye-catching jabs with his right as well as a wicked right hook to win the round 5-0.
Looking for a stoppage to salvage the fight, Okazawa came out quickly in the third round with a cluster of punches.
The Japanese pugilist’s sustained pressure throughout the round saw him come off better in many exchanges.
Vikas Krishan, though, kept his composure and managed to get in a few hard jabs himself, while slowing down Quincy Okazawa to his pace to win the bout by unanimous decision.
“I’m quite happy. I was slightly under pressure in this fight, but I pulled it off,” Vikas Krishan, who will face Kazakhstan’s Ablaikhan Zhussupov in the semi-finals, told the Olympic Channel after the bout.
“If you saw my jabs in the last round, I was wondering how he (Okazawa) could take my jabs. I have done a lot of hard work and some extra stuff as well. I think I won this fight because of that extra stuff,” he added.
Unfortunately for India, their men’s light heavyweight representative Sachin Kumar failed to make it three wins from three in the morning session after going down against China’s Daxaing Chen.
In what was a cagey fight, Sachin Kumar looked brightest in the first round where he managed to do some damage with his punches.
A three-punch combination by Sachin Kumar had staggered Daxaing Chen at one stage but the referee warned the Indian boxer for slapping, a tad unfairly.
Neither fighter could make solid connections with their punches in the round but Sachin Kumar won it 5-0 since he was the busier and more accurate of the two.
The second round saw more action than the first albeit not by much. Daxaing Chen began throwing more punches without landing as many as he would have liked.
With both boxers fighting on counterpunches, the Chinese pugilist’s superior reach gave him the advantage and he made it count with better connections when in the pocket.
Sachin Kumar did land a couple of lefts on the bell, however, that wasn’t enough to prevent him from losing the round 1-4.
The final round witnessed Daxaing Chen adopt a slightly more aggressive strategy, while Sachin Kumar remained content on the outside and didn’t throw enough punches.
It was Daxaing Chen that was moving forward to win the exchange and on the odd occasions when Sachin Kumar did look to push the pace, he was getting caught with the right lead.
The judges eventually gave Daxaing Chen a split decision win, but all hope is not lost for Sachin Kumar’s 2020 Olympics hopes.
He must now get the better of the rest of the losing quarter-finalists in the box-off at the Asian boxing Olympic qualifiers for a spot in Tokyo.
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