Suranjoy Singh (52kg) and Amandeep Singh (49kg) assured India of at least two medals by advancing to the semifinals while defending champion Akhil Kumar (56kg) brought a packed Talkatora to its feet with a dramatic revenge win over Iain Weaver to enter the quarter finals of the Commonwealth Games boxing event today.
The 29-year-old Haryana-boxer took on European silver-medallist Weaver in what was undoubtedly the bout of the day in front of a sell-out crowd, which could not stop chanting Akhil's name all through the three rounds.
And he gave them enough reason to celebrate with a thumping 11-6 win over Weaver, who had defeated him 12-6 in their previous meeting six months ago at the Commonwealth championships.
It was a bout that the fans had been waiting for and Akhil and Weaver put up a memorable show. The see-saw battle had Akhil trailing 0-1 at first, he drew level with right hook but the momentum kept swinging before the Indian ended the first round 4-3.
But Akhil went on a rampage in the second round and pulled off some clear uppercuts and body blows besides left jabs to make it 9-4.
Akhil seemed a bit unsettled in the third round when Weaver tried all-out attack but he kept his cool and guard to edge past the 20-year-old Englishman. The win has kept Akhil on course for a historic second successive gold in the Commonwealth Games which no other Indian boxer has achieved earlier.
"My coach Jaidev Bisht had explained to me how to go about it. We had worked on our strategy. Weaver has good counter-punches but I have my own style of cross-punching which paid me dividends. This win answers all those who feel age is catching up with me," he said.
"I was glad that uppercuts and body blows fetched me points which did not happen when I lost in the Commonwealth championships," he added.
A miffed Weaver blamed the loss on bad judging saying "the scoring was not fair. I didn't get points."
Akhil has another tough one in hand now as he will take on former Olympic bronze medallist Louis Julie in the quarterfinals here tomorrow.
Earlier, continuing the unbeaten run for Indian boxing at the ongoing event, Amandeep and Suranjoy defeated Muhammad Fuad and Mohammad Subrie -- both from Malaysia -- respectively to assure themselves of their maiden medals in the Commonwealth Games.
While Amandeep won 7-1 over Fuad, Suranjoy defeated Subrie 9-2.
Amandeep is now up against Ireland's Paddy Barnes, who beat Australian Andrew Moloney 5-3 in a tense quarterfinal bout. Suranjoy, on the other hand, has set up an India-Pakistan match against Haroon Iqbal.
The Britain-based Iqbal, who is representing Pakistan after failing to get the nod for the English team, was tied 3-3 with Welshman Andrew Selby after the regulation three rounds but won the bout on countback.
"I am very happy to have assured myself of my first Commonwealth Games medal but the task would not be complete till I get the gold," Amandeep, a Commonwealth Championship gold medallist, said after his bout.
Interestingly, Amandeep had defeated Fuad by exactly the same margin in the semifinals of the Commonwealth championships held here earlier this year. The encounter today had its fair share of drama after the initial lull, during which the first round ended 0-0. More than half of Amandeep's points came because of Fuad's recklessness.
Fuad was warned twice in the bout for ducking and ending up head-butting Amandeep in the process. "That is why it became difficult to connect punches because he was ducking too much," said Amandeep.
Suranjoy was the second Indian to take the ring in the session and he did not disappoint either. The Manipuri, who has won six gold medals in the past one year, remained on course for a seventh after rallying to get the better of Surie.
The Indian trailed 0-1 in the opening few seconds of the first round but more than made up once he got his rhythm against a pricky opponent.
"I won't be happy till I get the gold. being in the semifinals is fine but there is more to conquer," said Suranjoy.
The gold medallist from the inter-continental President's Cup last year, Suranjoy's energy, which never seems to diminish, proved to be decisive in the bout. The diminutive boxer said it was not all that tough after he figured out his rival's gameplan.
"Once I got a hang of how he plays, it was not too tough for me," the 24-year-old pugilist said.