WBC Asian champion Neeraj Goyat (69kg) failed to secure an Olympic ticket as he went down 0-3 in the box-off of the International Boxing Association’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament for professional boxers in Vargas, Venezuela today.
The 24-year-old Neeraj, who had lost 0-3 to second-seeded German Arajik Marutjan in the semifinal yesterday, was beaten by Spaniard Sissokho Ndiaye Youba in today’s box-off to determine the third Olympic qualifier in the category as the finalists have taken the top two slots. He settled for a bronze medal. Neeraj’s loss ended India’s hopes of securing a quota berth at the final Olympic qualifying tournament for boxing as Gaurav Bidhuri (52kg) and Dilbag Singh (81kg) had already bowed out after first-round losses.
India will thus have only three boxers - Shiva Thapa (56kg), Manoj Kumar (64kg) and Vikas Krishan (75kg) - in the Games scheduled next month. The trio had made the cut through the qualifiers for amateurs. The competition in Venezuela had 26 Rio quota places on offer - three in every weight category except heavyweight (91kg) and super heavyweight (91+kg), from which only the winners will earn an Olympic spot. The tournament featured boxers from AIBA’s own professional events - the World Series of Boxing (WSB) and AIBA Pro Boxing (APB) - besides pro boxers from all over the world.
However, none of the big names in the pro circuit made themselves available for the event citing reasons ranging from fitness, lack of time for preparation and the threat of sanctions by their promoters and licensing bodies like the WBO and the IBA.