Devendro, Manoj advance with contrasting wins at boxing nationals

Guwahati, Dec 9 (IANS) The Commonwealth Games medallist duo of Laishram Devendro Singh and Manoj Kumar notched up contrasting wins in their new weight categories to advance on the second day of the senior men’s national championship here on Friday.

The second day at the nationals turned out to be much more organised and disciplined than the first day with more that 100 bouts being held during the day.

Manipur’s Devendro overcame some anxious moments to beat lesser known Bhoj Raj of Uttar Pradesh 3-2 in his maiden attempt at the Flyweight (52 kilogram) category.

The 24-year-year-old Asian Championships and Commonwealth Games silver medallist started on a shaky note but soon picked up the momentum in the second and third rounds to get a split 3-2 verdict in his favour.

The celebrated Devendro, who so far used to ply his trade in the Light Flyweight category (49 kg) reasoned that his decision to move up to a higher weight category was due to injuries and better hand-eye co-ordination.

“Light fly was not difficult to maintain, I could bring it down when I wanted but it was leading to injuries and it was also affecting my hand-eye coordination,” Devendro said after his exhausting bout at the Sarusajai indoor Stadium here.

“I had been competing in light-flyweight since 2007 and I thought this was the time to change.”

“Today my body felt a bit tight but maybe it was because I was competing after a long time, this is my first competition after Olympics,” added the affable boxer, who missed out on Olympic qualification earlier this year despite being a medallist in the final qualifying tournament.

The diminutive boxer from Manipur would be turning up for the Services Sports Control Board (SSCB), his first competitive outing after the heartbreak he endured at the final Asian Olympic Qualifiers in June.

The National Championships would be an opportunity for him for the Asian Championships silver medallist to make a fresh start.

Besides Devendro, Manoj Kumar from the Railways Sports Promotion Board (RSPB), also made a memorable debut in the welterweight (69kg) after deciding to jump a division post the Rio Olympics.

The 29-year-old Manoj, who defeated Commonwealth Games silver medallist Mandeep Jangra in the Railways’ trials to book his berth for the nationals, outpunched Tamil Nadu’s Manikanadan 5-0 in a contest that started on an even keel but eventually turned out to be lop-sided.

“I felt good. There was no stiffness in the body either, my gloves were not of great fitting. So I was avoiding hitting too powerfully because that could have caused injury. But overall I was happy with how the bout turned out for me,” the two-time Olympian said.

–IANS

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