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Tokyo 2020: Amit Panghal bows out after shocking loss to Yuberjen Martinez



Amit Panghal

Tokyo: Indian boxer Amit Panghal (52kg) bowed out of the Olympics with a stunning 1-4 loss to Rio Games silver-medallist Yuberjen Martinez, beaten by the Colombian’s relentless attacks and pace in the pre-quarterfinals on Saturday.

The top-seeded Indian, who was making his debut in the Games, had got an opening-round bye.

Panghal was put under pressure by the sprightly Colombian in the opening round itself but the Indian ensured that he connected better to claim the first three minutes 4-1.

But Martinez’s pace should have set alarm bells ringing in the Indian corner.

The Pan-American champion upped the ante in the second round, working relentlessly on Panghal’s body with his uppercuts.

Panghal got little respite from the onslaught and found it tough to respond. Martinez’s persistence brought him to level with the top star.

He made sure that there was no let-up in the intensity in the final three minutes and Panghal ended up being on the defensive.

Despite this loss, the 25-year-old Panghal remains one of the best-performing Indian boxers in recent times, having secured a gold medal at the 2018 Asian Games, followed by an unparalleled silver medal at the world championships in 2019.

The diminutive Army man is also a three-time Asian medallist, securing a medal every time he has been at the continental showpiece.

Martinez won the light flyweight silver medal in the 2016 Rio Olympics and will turn professional after the Tokyo Games.

His parents, who follow the pacifism-supporting Anglican church, were against him taking up the sport but eventually came around to support his ambitions.

On Friday, Lovlina Borgohain (69kg) became the first Indian boxer to secure a medal at the ongoing Games after advancing to the semi-finals. She defeated former world champion Nien-Chin Chen of Chinese Taipei in her quarter-final bout.

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