Manoj Kumar ended what was a dismal evening for India with a win via unanimous decision (5-0) to advance to the 69 kg round of 16 of the Asian Games on Friday.
Manoj prevailed over Bhutan’s Sangay Wangdi to make the last-16 stage and set up a clash with Kyrgyzstan’s Abdurakhman Abdurakhmanov, who got an opening-round bye. The former Asian Championships bronze medallist was up against an opponent whose lack of experience showed quite early in the bout.
Manoj had little trouble penetrating Wangdi’s defences and kept him on the backfoot almost the entire bout. The Indian boxing contingent, though, suffered a massive setback earlier in the day as Commonwealth Games gold medallist Gaurav Solanki was defeated by Japan’s Tanaka Ryomei in the 52 kg round of 32 clash.
Solanki was beaten in a unanimous verdict with the Indian’s defence was all over the place against the southpaw.
The Armyman looked particularly drained after the second round and just could not find a way to prevent his opponent’s hooks from connecting. Tanaka was not much of a power-hitter, his punches in the third round being feeble, but he was helped by Solanki’s poor defence and also his own ability to draw the Indian in.
The Japanese had finished fifth at the Asian Championships last year, incidentally beating India’s world championship bronze-winner Gaurav Bidhuri in the box-off for a world championships spot. In that tournament, he had competed in the bantamweight (56kg) category.
(With PTI inputs)