India Top-Ranked boxer Amit Panghal suffers shock loss at Tokyo Olympics

The Nation  |  Jul 31, 2021

India's biggest medal prospects, including teenage shooting sensation Manu Bhaker, boxing icon Mary Kom, and the world's top-ranked archer Deepika Kumari all failed to impress before bowing out of the Tokyo Olympics. Boxer Panghal is the latest big name to join them in exiting the Games.

Top seed and World No. 1 Amit Panghal's dream of winning a medal in his debut Olympics ended in a shocking 1-4 defeat to Yuberjen Martinez of Colombia in the Round of 16 at Tokyo's Kokugikan Arena on Saturday.

Well before the Games began in the Japanese capital, Panghal was tipped to stand on top of the podium in the flyweight category.

But the 25-year-old athlete from the state of Haryana was outclassed by the Rio Games silver-medalist as he failed to handle his rival's ultra-aggressive approach.

With Martinez launching an all-out attack and outpacing Panghal right from the start, the Indian struggled to deal with his forceful and pinpoint accurate punches.

Panghal was put under tremendous pressure as soon as the bout started. But, the Indian boxer managed to maintain his composure to edge out his opponent 4-1 in the first round.

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However, things changed quickly in the next round as the Colombian overwhelmed Panghal with a barrage of uppercuts on his body. The Indian had no breathing space whatsoever as the onslaught continued, eventually leading to the contest being tied after Martinez triumphed in Round 2.

Panghal's challenger witnessed no drop in his intensity levels in the following rounds, eventually coasting through to a comfortable 4-1 victory to reach the quarterfinals of the competition.

Despite Panghal's defeat in his opening bout at the Olympics, Indian Boxing's High Performance Director Santiago Nieva claimed it was not a surprise result, even though the Indian is ranked number one in the official International Boxing Association rankings.

'They have sparred with each other. In some of them Amit was better than today but in others, it was similar to what happened today. It wasn't a total surprise because we had seen that this guy is very dangerous", Nieva said after Panghal's loss.

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"We knew what to expect but our hope was that Amit would stand up better in the last two rounds", Nieva added.

"He didn't have the strength to move and so he stayed inside and then he didn't have the strength to respond also and he became passive and there the Colombian scored a lot of points".

"Against no other opponent, I have seen Amit so tired. It's not just him", Nieva concluded.

On the other hand, Indian boxer Amit Khatana had no words to describe Panghal's defeat.

"It's a heartbreaking defeat. I am still in shock. How can Panghal lose his opening bout in Tokyo? He had prepared extensively for these Games, and had his eyes on a medal, but Martinez came up with a stunning performance", Khatana told Sputnik on Saturday.

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