Vijender Singh (81kg) and Akhil Kumar (56kg) settled for bronze medals after losing in the semifinals but women kept India’s chances of a boxing gold in the Arafura Games alive as all three advanced to the finals of their respective categories in Darwin, Australia on Thursday.
On a disappointing day for the men, Vijender and Akhil bowed out with contrasting defeats.
While Vijender lost 16-17 to New Zealand Sam Rapira in a thrilling encounter, Akhil went down 13-24 to Australian Balla Ibrahim.
But Pinki Jhangra (51kg), Meena Rani (60kg), Pooja Rani (75kg) advanced to the finals, keeping India’s hopes for gold afloat.
Among the men, Akhil was the first to enter the ring on Thursday and though he left his rival bloodied, the 29-year-old trailed in points count.
He was down 4-7 in the opening three minutes before the gap widened to 8-15 and 13-24 ultimately.
“I gave it my all but in the end, it’s a loss. I am disappointed with the result but not with my effort. It was a good bout. I was competing after seven months and I am satisfied, I hope to peak as more tournaments come,” Akhil said.
Vijender’s bout was a closer affair. The scores were tied 4-4 in the opening round with Rapira withstanding some harsh blows from the Indian.
The Olympic and World Championship bronze-medallist Indian took a point’s lead in the second round but the Kiwi boxer managed to sneak away with a win by notching up a couple of crucial points in the final three minutes.