India’s boxing contingent enjoyed a perfect evening session on Sunday at the Asian boxing Olympic qualifiers in Amman, Jordan after Lovlina Borgohain, Ashish Kumar and Satish Kumar cemented qualification for the 2020 Olympics in their respective divisions.
Lovlina Borgohain dictated the tempo of her fight for all three rounds to get a unanimous decision win, while Ashish Kumar recovered from a slow start to get the better of his opponent and qualify for Tokyo 2020.
However, the most dominant performance of the day by an Indian at the Asian boxing Olympic qualifiers had to be that of Satish Kumar, who was in command of his bout from start to finish and became his nation’s first-ever super heavyweight representative at the Games.
Lovlina becomes second Indian woman to qualify
The first Indian boxer in action in the evening session of the Asian boxing Olympic qualifiers was second seed Lovlina Borgohain, who squared off against Uzbekistan’s Maftunakhon Melieva.
The towering Indian welterweight used her height effectively straight from the off, making it difficult for Melieva to get her jabs in on the inside.
The Indian pugilist was using her left lead very well and controlled the first round with straight punches while her opponent looked to close the distance, searching for a few solid connections.
In fairness, Maftunakhon Melieva did find some success but Lovlina Borgohain was clearly on top as the round progressed and even connected with a brutal right cross before the end of it to win it across the board.
Melieva was seen more on the front foot in the second round as she looked to claw her way back into the fight.
However, Lovlina Borgohain looked comfortable fighting on the back foot and got her jabs away frequently while doing so.
Both boxers also looked to clinch a lot in the second round and unload some body shots before breaking away with hard punches to the head.
Lovlina Borgohain did come out better in these exchanges but Maftunakhon Melieva also managed to do some damage with one judge even giving her round two, while the other four ruled in favour of the second seed.
The final round was the reigning World Championships bronze medallist’s most dominant as Lovlina Borgohain started showcasing her swift footwork and continued to connect with right-hand counters and left jabs on the back foot.
Melieva did begin the round with a good tempo but a cluster of punches in the last minute meant that it was all Lovlina Borgohain by the end of it, leading to a unanimous decision win in favour of the Indian.
“I am very happy that I have qualified for the Olympics. I worked very hard to try and qualify, hence I am feeling very happy to have qualified,” Lovlina Borgohain, who will face Hong Gu in the semi-final, told the Olympic Channel.
“My dream for Tokyo 2020 is about to come true and I am confident that I can win India gold for my country,” she asserted.
Ashish Kumar dedicates achievement to late father
The first round between Ashish Kumar and Indonesia’s Maikhel Muskita was a fiery contest with both boxers inflicting some serious punishment.
The Indonesian may have even taken Ashish Kumar by surprise as he pushed on the front foot and landed quite a few significant blows.
A vicious right hand from Maikhel Muskita was followed up by several hard blows to Ashish Kumar’s body.
But Ashish Kumar came back with a beautiful right uppercut and then delivered a left hook to the Indonesian’s chin.
Muskita, though, refused to back down and thought he had won the round when a shoeshine combination culminated with a left hook. However, the judges saw things differently and ruled 4-1 for Ashish Kumar.
Despite winning the first round, the Indian pugilist came out more aggressively, looking to impose himself in the second and increased his punch output.
He came into his own soon and went through the gears on the front with Muskita on the retreat often in the second.
A slapping right cross and left hand-right hook combinations saw his confidence grow as he dropped his hands to his beltline and caught a tired Maikhel Muskita with a cracking left jab before winning the round 5-0.
The last round was more even than the second with an aggressive Maikhel Muskita in search of an unlikely stoppage. A confident Ashish Kumar weaved, ducked and kept tagging the Indonesian on the back foot.
The Indian middleweight also delivered some hard shots to the body and although Maikhel Muskita spiritedly fought till the final bell, Ashish Kumar won by unanimous decision and booked his ticket to Tokyo.
“I am feeling very good and the main thing is that whatever I have achieved, I would like to dedicate it to my father because he passed away one month ago to the day,” Ashish Kumar, who will take on Eumir Marcial in the semi-final, said after the bout.
“It was his dream to see me at the Olympics, so whatever I have achieved, it’s to complete his wish for me. Agreed that even I wanted to qualify but I want to dedicate this to him,” he added.
Satish Kumar records a first for India at the Olympics
Fourth seed Satish Kumar became the fifth Indian to qualify on the day at the Asian boxing Olympic qualifiers after an authoritative display against Mongolia’s Otgonbayer Daivii that was one-way traffic from start to finish.
Otgonbayer Daivii kept coming at Satish Kumar, whose movement for a super heavyweight suggested that he’s exceptionally well-conditioned.
Satish Kumar began the round by connecting a good left hook but from then on in, it was the Indian’s right cross that did most of the damage for the rest of the fight.
The Mongolian kept walking into the hurtful right cross which even dislodged his mouthpiece towards the end of the first round that Satish Kumar won 5-0.
The Indian super heavyweight maintained his high punch output in the second round, connecting with his lethal right cross as well as hard body shots.
His ability to keep connecting cleanly consistently led to visible swelling all over Otgonbayer Daivii’s face and, particularly, under his left eye.
The Mongolian to his credit showed that he had the chin of a champion by refusing to go down even after two right straights caught him flush on the face, leading to a standing count by the referee.
Satish Kumar’s dominance in the second round was rewarded with 10-8s across the board and he continued to punish Otgonbayer Daivii but from a southpaw stance in the final round.
Somehow Otgonbayer Daivii kept moving forward till the final bell without much effect as Satish Kumar won comfortably by unanimous decision to seal his Tokyo berth.
“I am feeling extremely happy and I can’t explain exactly how happy I feel because I want to progress further,” Satish Kumar, who will face off against first seed Bakhodir Jalolov, said after the bout.
“I want to perform even better than I did today in my future bouts and I’m extremely happy and proud to become the first boxer ever from my country to qualify for the Olympics from the super heavyweight division,” he added.
When and where to watch the Asian boxing Olympic qualifiers
You can also follow the daily live blog in both English and Hindi on the Olympic Channel.