At home, Indians can pack a punch

Iain Weaver (blue) on way to winning the bantamweight gold in the Commonwealth Championship in New Delhi. He was also adjudged the ‘Boxer of the Tournament'.-SANDEEP SAXENA Iain Weaver (blue) on way to winning the bantamweight gold in the Commonwealth Championship in New Delhi. He was also adjudged the ‘Boxer of the Tournament'.

On home ground, the Indians will enjoy a huge advantage. Boxers such as Vijender Singh, Akhil Kumar, Dilbagh Singh, Suranjoy Singh and Jai Bhagwan are all experienced, but the competition is going to be fierce and there will be no room for errors, writes Abhijit Sen Gupta.

The Talkatora Stadium, which had earlier hosted the 2010 Commonwealth Boxing Championships, will once again witness hectic activity when the boxing events of the Commonwealth Games get underway. The competition has attracted more than 300 entries, the bulk of them coming from 18 African countries hoping to make their presence felt in the final medals table.

England, which has long dominated boxing in the Commonwealth Games, has named a strong squad hoping to continue its run of success in Delhi. England has won a total of 106 medals, including 47 gold. In the previous edition of the Games, England had topped the table in boxing with five gold, one silver and two bronze medals. This time, however, the competition is expected to be a lot tougher, and England will have to overcome stiff opposition from India and New Zealand, while boxers from Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya and Tanzania are also capable of staging upsets.

Banking on experience... Akhil Kumar, Vijender Singh (below) and Suranjoy Singh (bottom).-SANDEEP SAXENA

On home ground, the Indian boxers will enjoy a huge advantage. Vijender Singh, Akhil Kumar, Dilbagh Singh, Suranjoy Singh and Jai Bhagwan are all experienced hands but the competition is going to be fierce and there will be no room for errors.

England's hopes rest mainly on its talented pugilists such as Tommy Stubbs (49 kg), Khalid Yafai (52 kg), Iain Weaver (56 kg), Bradley Saunders (64 kg) and Simon Vallily (91 kg). Weaver is a promising young puncher and is a member of the Great Britain elite squad trained by Robert McCracken. As a junior, Weaver had won ABA titles in 2007 and 2008. His victory in the Commonwealth Championships in Delhi earlier has given his confidence a big boost.

Both Weaver and Vallily captured gold medals at the Commonwealth Championships. Weaver, who won the bantamweight (56 kg) gold, also bagged the ‘Boxer of the Tournament' award. Vallily won the heavyweight (91 kg) gold.

PTI

Performance Director Rob McCracken says that the Delhi Games is an important part of his boxers' preparations for the 2012 London Olympics. “I am hoping for the team to build on the success we had at the recent European Championships and continue the tradition of the British boxers in doing well at the Commonwealth Games,” he said recently.

A five-member squad will represent New Zealand. The focus is likely to be on the promising 18-year-old Joseph Parker from Auckland and the Commonwealth Championship bronze medallist, Nathan McEwen (75 kg), and Angus Donaldson (60 kg), a silver medallist at the Oceania Championships.

Parker, a super-heavyweight who bagged a silver medal in the Commonwealth Championships, carries high expectations of the national coach, John McKay. According to McKay the youngster has very fast hands and is very mobile for a super-heavyweight. He is comparatively inexperienced but is a great prospect for the future in international boxing.

PTI

The team also includes Christchurch's Reece Papuni (81 kg), who won a bronze at the President's Cup in Baku this year, and the Commonwealth Championships bronze medallist David Aloua (91 kg).

The New Zealanders are expecting tough competition especially from India.

Boxers from African countries are capable of pulling off an upset or two and may well dash the hopes of the favourites in one or two instances. Kenya will be sending a strong squad which includes two Melbourne CWG bronze medallists, light-welterweight Moses Mathenge and light-heavyweight Joshua Andere.

The Kenyan officials are confident that their 10-man squad will be able to get more than the three bronze medals the nation had won in Melbourne. South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria and Namibia also have a talented pool of boxers and some of them could make a big mark in the competitions in Delhi.