Commonwealth Games silver-medallist L Devendro Singh (49kg) stormed into the quarterfinal, while the experienced Manoj Kumar (64kg) entered the last-16 stage of the International Boxing Association’s World Olympic Qualification tournament after notching up comprehensive victories in Baku.
Fourth seed Devendro, who got an opening round bye, defeated Argentina’s Leandro Blanc 3-0 in a lop-sided contest, while former Commonwealth Games gold-medallist Manoj upstaged second seed Mohamed Eslam Ahmed Aly of Egypt with a dominant 3-0 show.
Devendro, also an Asian silver-medallist, will on Tuesday be up against South Africa’s Sibusiso Bandla, who defeated Korea’s Lee Yechan in his prequarterfinal bout.
The 23-year-old Indian has to make the final to book himself a berth in the Olympic Games.
“Devendro used his right straights and left hook punches in brilliant combination. His uppercut was also very good and precise. In the second round, he somehow twisted his foot but managed to handle the situation on his own. He was brilliant in all three rounds and won the bout unanimously,” national coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu told PTI.
Manoj, on the other hand, will take on Bulgaria’s Ayrin Smetov Ismetov in his pre-quarterfinal bout on Tuesday after upstaging a more fancied rival.
Manoj, also a former Asian bronze-medallist, will be assured of an Olympic spot if he makes the semifinals of the ongoing event.
“Manoj put up a superb show, one of the best of his career. He was very sensible, I have never seen him this calm and measured in his approach. He kept his opponent at long range, totally avoided close contact with Mohamed,” Sandhu said.
The tournament has 39 qualifying spots up for grabs — two in the 49kg category, five each in 52kg, 56kg, 60kg, 64kg, 69kg, 75kg and 81kg, and one each in 91kg and +91kg.
Over 400 boxers from more than 100 countries are vying for these slots in the final qualifying tournament for amateur boxers.
India have not sent any entry in the 56kg category as Shiva Thapa has already qualified for the Rio Games during the Asian qualifiers in March.