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Tokyo Olympics 2021: Boxers Pooja Rani, Amit Panghal Knocked Out in Quarter Finals

India's Pooja Rani, left and China's Li Qian react after their women's middleweight 75-kg boxing match at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 31, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan (PTI Photo)

New Delhi: Pooja Rani produced an underwhelming display on Saturday against China’s Li Qian as she lost 0-5 in the quarterfinals and bowed out of the Tokyo Olympics. Qian who won the bronze medal at Rio 2016 totally outclassed Rani in the bout.

Her exit came on the same day when boxer Amit Panghal also bowed out of the event after losing 1-4 to Rio Games silver-medallist Yuberjen Martinez.

Rani who started the first round strongly faded in the second round as her Chinese rival produced some excellent counter-punching skills to push the Indian against the wall.

After failing to land her punches, Rani went on the defensive but it was far too easy for her experienced rivals to penetrate her defence as the Indian looked clueless.

Earlier Panghal, who was also making his debut in the Games and was seeded top, fizzled out after a good start.

One of India’s strongest medal contenders, Panghal was put under pressure by the sprightly Colombian in the opening round itself but the pre-bout favourite ensured that he connected better to claim the first three minutes 4-1.

“They have sparred with each other. In some of them Amit was better than today but in others, it was similar to what happened today. It wasn’t a total surprise because we had seen that this guy is very dangerous,” Indian Boxing’s High Performance Director Santiago Nieva said after the bout.

Martinez’s pace should have set alarm bells ringing in the Indian corner despite Panghal bagging the first round because the Pan-American champion upped the ante in the second round, working relentlessly on Panghal’s body with his uppercuts. Panghal found it tough to respond and Martinez’s persistence brought him level with the top star.

“We knew what to expect but our hope was that Amit would stand up better in the last two rounds,” Nieva added.

Martinez made sure that there was no let up in the intensity in the final three minutes as well and Panghal ended up being on the defensive for the most part.

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On Friday, Lovlina Borgohain (69kg) became the first Indian boxer to secure a medal at the ongoing Games after advancing to the semifinals. She defeated former world champion Nien-Chin Chen of Chinese Taipei in her quarterfinal bout.

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