India’s medal hopes in boxing suffered a huge setback when pugilist Amit Panghal (52kg) bowed out of the Tokyo 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 (July 31).
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.
India’s big medal hope & top seed Amit Panghal eliminated in 2nd round (52kg); loses to Rio Olympic Silver medalist 1:4.
Amit had received 1st round Bye. #Tokyo2020 #Tokyo2020withIndia_AllSports pic.twitter.com/97zTQfcrrT
— India_AllSports (@India_AllSports) July 31, 2021
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 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 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 semifinals. She defeated former world champion Nien-Chin Chen of Chinese Taipei in her quarterfinal bout.