New Delhi: With the fancied Vijender Singh ousted after a shock loss, it is now left to Asian champion Suranjoy Singh and two other unexpected finalists to ensure that India’s best-ever boxing medal haul in the Commonwealth Games gets a touch of gold in the summit bouts in New Delhi on Thursday.
India are assured of seven medals in the games, surpassing the six (a gold, two silver and an equal number of bronze) the country won in the previous edition of the quadrennial event in Melbourne.
Four of the medals this time are confirmed bronze because Amandeep Singh (49kg), Jai Bhagwan (60kg), Dilbag Singh (69kg) and Vijender (75kg) lost their respective semifinal bouts Tuesday.
The biggest blow to the team, which was unbeaten till the quarterfinal stage, was Olympic and World Championship bronze-medallist Vijender’s stunning 3-4 loss to England’s Anthony Ogogo after another favourite and defending champion Akhil Kumar had lost in the quarterfinals.
What added to the heartbreak was the fact that the world number one didn’t take a single blow from his rival, who scored through twin warnings that the Indian got - first for hitting the Englishman on the back of his head and the second for holding him.
A protest was lodged by the hosts but the result was upheld and it is now upto Suranjoy (52kg), Manoj Kumar (64kg) and Paramjeet Samota (+91kg) to lift the spirits after Tuesday’s disappointment.
Suranjoy faces Kenya’s feisty Benson Njangiri but given the fantastic form the diminutive Manipuri has shown, he can be considered a good bet for a gold.
The tempo-boxer, nicknamed ‘Chhota Tyson´ by his peers, is all aggression mixed with some caution whenever he takes the ring and often leaves his rival gasping for breath with swift counter-attacks and sublime foot-movement.
“I don’t like talking much between bouts, I like to talk with my punches. Let’s keep the talking for until after I win the gold,” he said ahead of the finals.
The 23-year-old, who has won six successive gold medals since March 2009, would be gunning for his seventh on Thursday and it would hardly be a problem for him to finish on top.
Next up for India on Thursday would be Manoj who has been an unexpected success story given that he was in wilderness for two years due to a wrist injury.
The unassuming Haryana-lad has quietly gone about his job even as Akhil and Vijender hogged the limelight.