Pooja Rani loses in boxing quarterfinals, bows out of Tokyo Olympics

Asian champion Pooja Rani lost to Olympic bronze medallist and former World champion Li Qian of China on Saturday to bow out of the Tokyo Olympics.

Pooja Rani (red) of Team India exchanges punches with Qian Li of Team China during the Women's Middle (69-75kg) quarterfinal on day eight of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.   -  GETTY IMAGES

India had a lacklustre day in the boxing ring as Asian champion Pooja Rani Bohra and World championships silver medallist Amit Panghal exited from the Tokyo Olympics on Saturday.

The 30-year-old Pooja, who had lost to Li Qian in the 2014 Asian Games, gave her best but could not make an impact against the superior Li. The Chinese won the women’s 75kg quarterfinal bout 5-0.

Even as southpaw Pooja used her right-left combinations to launch attacks, the 31-year-old Li relied on counterattacks to land quick and accurate punches.

After securing the first round with a 5-0 margin, Li mixed her punches, including jabs and combinations deftly, to tighten her grip over the contest. Pooja delivered some body shots, but those were too few to get her the opening round.

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Li excelled with her long-range game, featuring her ring craft and punch selection, as Pooja struggled to catch up with the Chinese.

Li, a former World champion, took the last two rounds with an identical 5-0 margin to ensure another Olympic medal for her.

Top seed and medal contender Amit Panghal crashed out after losing a 52kg pre-quarterfinal bout 4-1 to Colombian Yuberjen Martinez, a Rio Olympics silver medallist in the light flyweight.

The 25-year-old Panghal, a World Championships silver medallist, dominated the first round with his excellent footwork backed by solid shots, including some lusty lefts, on target. The Indian established an early advantage as he won the opener 4-1.

However, the experienced 29-year-old Colombian surprised Panghal. Martinez chased the Indian around the ring and breathlessly sprayed punches to make the Indian’s moves ineffective and claim the second round 4-1.

Martinez’s quick combinations and volume of punches tired out Panghal in the third. The Indian connected a few, but his effort was not enough to get the verdict in his favour.

The Colombian won the final round 5-0 and with it the crucial contest.

Now, Satish Kumar (+91kg) is the only Indian male boxer left in the Tokyo Games.

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