Rohtak: Indian Tigers put up a spirited challenge before going down 2-3 to Astana Arlans of Kazakhstan in the first-ever World Series of Boxing (WSB) bout in the country on Saturday.
In the historic event held at the National Boxing Academy in Rohtak, the hosts were looking to avenge their defeat in Kazakhstan but the three-time champions proved to be the better team and emerged victorious.
With Indian Tigers down 1-3 before the final bout of the contest, it was the local lad Sanjeet Kumar who narrowed down the scoreline. In the clash of heavyweights, Sanjeet rolled out his A-Game against the much-fancied Abilkhair Turlanbekov to win the last bout of the evening 2:1 to send the packed stadium into a thunderous applause.
With his family and friends in attendance, Sanjeet peppered his opponent with hooks and jabs to leave his rival reeling in the ring.
Sanjeet dominated the proceedings from the word go and outsmarted his opponent by using his height advantage and constantly kept landing his jabs while staying out of harm's way.
Sanjeet's persistent attacks made the Kazakh run out of breath and by the time the fifth round was over, Abilkhair was left with no steam in him with the Indian Open gold medallist coming out on top.
Earlier in the fourth bout of the evening, Arlans' Abilkhan Amankul, who came into the clash on the back of a comprehensive win against the Patriot Boxing Team, intelligently used his punches whereas Asian Youth silver medallist Ashish tried to use his sheer strength in a hope of a knockout but his attempts proved futile.
Abilkhan's punches proved too much for Ashish as the judges scored the bout in Arlans' favour and sealed the clash with a 3-1 lead.
In the third bout of the evening, the lanky Dheeraj Singh (64 kg) of Indian Tigers tried to tower over his opponent but failed to do so as Dilmurat Mizhitov used his experience and extended his winning run in the tournament to give his side a narrow 2-1 edge over the Tigers.
Muhammed Etash Khan (56 kg) got the Tigers back into the competition with a victory over Nursultan Kochshegulov via a unanimous victory.
The 18-year-old Manipuri boxer got off to a fiery start, clobbering his opponent with his powerful punches from the word go. He used his counter-attacking methods to the hilt to leave Arlans' Nursultan Kochshegulov running for covers.
In the second round, the Kazakh, trying to tie up the Indian, lowered his guard and Etash responded with a ferocious right jab to bust his opponent up on the right temple.
Nursultan showed great character to continue the fight despite blood oozing out but Etash intelligently slipped his punches and attacked his opponent to emerge victorious.
In the lung opener of the starry WSB evening, three-time King's cup Gold medallist K Shyam Kumar (46-49 kg) of the Indian Tigers went down to Astana Arlans' Temirtas Zhussupov via split decision despite putting up a spirited show.
Both the boxers started off slow and spent the initial moments of the bout trying to get a measure of each other. However, the Kazakh boxer slowly grew into the fight and landed few vicious hooks and shook the Indian's confidence in the opening round.
However, the next round saw Shyam come off on the front foot as he looked for the knockout with his right hooks and uppercuts. A few of them left the Kazakh dazed as well.
The last three rounds saw both the pugilists change gears and despite what looked like an evenly fought contest, the judges awarded the bout to the defending champions.
46-49 kg: Shyam Kumar Kakara lost to Temirtas Zhussupov 1:2
56 kg: Muhammed Etash Khan bt Nursultan Koschegulov 3:0
64 kg: Dheeraj lost to Dilmurat Mizhitov 1:2
75 kg: Ashish Kumar lost to Abilkhan Amankul 0-3
91 kg: Sanjeet bt Abilkhair Turlanbekov 2-1.