London: Vijender Singh's hopes of becoming a legend in Indian sports by winning medals in two successive Olympic Games went up in smoke on Monday as he failed to deliver the knockout punch to Abbos Atoev, his opponent from Uzbekistan, and thus bowed out of the 2012 London Olympics.
In his quarter-final bout of the men's Middleweight category, Vijender, a bronze medal winner at the Beijing Olympic Games four years ago, could not raise the tempo when it mattered the most as Atoev intelligently fended off his punches and launched counter attacks.
Vijender, who has a strong defence, was too cautious and did not take the fight to Atoev, giving the Uzbek several chances to score. Atoev's combination of left and right hooks were much more potent than Vijender's jabs and hooks, which failed to connect on a regular basis.
Vijender could not raise the tempo when it mattered the most as Uzbekistan\'s Abbos Atoev won the contest 17-13.
Though Vijender managed to hold Atoev, a gold medalist in the light Heavyweight and Middleweight competitions at the 2007 and 2009 World Championships respectively, 3-3 in the first round, his over-defensive strategy was exposed by the 26-year-old Uzbek pugilist.
In spite of starting the second round with a barrage of left and right punches, Vijender could not keep up the same momentum. The Uzbek, meanwhile, recovered and pushed Vijender to the corner with a combination of left and right hooks to take the lead.
In a desperate attempt to make amends in the final round, Vijender went on the offensive from the outset, but in the process, left his guard open and allowed his opponent to win some cheap points. And though the Indian landed a few blows, it was not enough to give him a clear lead. As a result, the Uzbek took the decisive four-point lead and won the match with 17-13 scoreline.
The bout showed that Vijender did not have a clear cut strategy to counter the tough Atoev. The taller of the two boxers, Vijender tried to reach out to Atoev, leaving crucial gaps in his defence which were sucessfully exploited by the Uzbek.
With this victory, Atoev also improved his overall record against Vijender whom he beat in the semi-final of the World Amateur Boxing Championships in 2009. Vijender, though stunned Atoev with a 0-7 victory in the 2010 Asian Games, his strategy-less fight here at the London Games has pushed him 2-1 down in overall head-to-head contest.