London, Aug 3 (Agency)
Fancied Indian boxer Vijender Singh moved closer to a podium finish as he pipped US rival Terrel Gausha 16-15 in a thrilling bout to enter the quarterfinal of the men's 75 kg boxing category at the Olympics here Thursday.
Vijender, a bronze medallist in the Beijing Asian Games four years back, played a brilliant tactical game using his height advantage to hold off the lightning fast Gausha in a round of 16 middleweight contest at the Excel arena.
He will now fight Uzbek boxer Abbos Atoev for a place in the semi final. Victory over Atoev will assure Vijender of a medal, as both losing semi finalists are given bronze in the competition.
The 26-year-old Indian had a measure of his opponent in the first round which he won 4-3, though the immensely talented Gausha did let loose a flurry of punches.
Gausha went on the offensive in the initial moments of round two, but Vijender avoided most of the blows with his constant movements and then launched into the attack.
Towards the close, Gausha landed a left hook followed by a right jab, forcing Vijender to wobble momentarily.
However, the seasoned campaigner withstood the punches and soon gathered his composure. The round ended 5-5.
The American, realising he was behind, again threw his powerful fists, but Vijender played an intelligent third round to limit the damage by quickly moving out of harm's way.
The pin-up boy of Indian boxing retaliated with much furry towards the end and the most happening round saw a 7-7 deadlock ensuring Vijender's progress to the last eight with a slender one-point win.
As Polish referee Mariusz Gorny called the two pugilists to announce the result, the rookie but impressive Gausha constantly gestured to the crowd to raise the decibel level for him. Vijender stood silently, but once the verdict was made public, he mockingly pulled the trigger at Gausha.