Indian boxers look to make a mark at the grandest stage

Updated: Jul 27, 2012, 18:04 PM IST

New Delhi: The stage looks set for the Indian boxers to create history at the London Olympics. With eight boxers qualifying for the mega event, India is fielding its largest boxing contingent at the Games.

There will be 10 weight classes for the male boxers, from light flyweight to super heavyweight while the female boxers will compete in three weight divisions -- flyweight, lightweight and middleweight.

The competition will start Saturday and will finish Aug 12. There are a total of 286 pugilists taking part with 250 men and 36 women. The men`s bouts will take place over three rounds of three minutes while the women`s bouts will have four rounds of two minutes.

Seven men and a woman boxer will lead India`s medal-hunt in London but the road ahead will be as hard as anything they have experienced before.

All eyes will be on five-time world boxing champion Mary Kom. With only 12 boxers participating in her category, a medal seems a surety -- which one it will be needs to be sorted out.

The biggest challenge for Mary will be whether she can punch above her weight. With women boxing making its debut in the Olympics, the 29-year-old had to change from 48 to 51kg weight category.

Beijing Games bronze medallist Vijender Singh will lead the men at the Games. The man credited with changing the face of boxing will be fighting in the middleweight category (75kg) and a scrappy last year has dented his chances in the event.

The former World No.1 and Asian games gold medallist will have to contend with the likes of Uzbek Abbos Atoev and Ukrainian Evhen Khytrov, who are clear favourites for gold.

Shiva Thapa, the rising star of Indian boxing, also has a fairly good chance to win a medal. Aged just 18, Shiva is the youngest Indian boxer ever to qualify for the Olympics. Fighting in the bantamweight category (56kg), the Indian will have to lookout for Lazaro Alvarez of Cuba and host nation Britain`s Luke Campbell.

In the light heavyweight category (81kg), Sumit Sangwan will look to etching his name in the Indian folklore. The 19-year-old has had a whirlwind beginning, quickly rising through the ranks and qualifying for the biggest sporting event by winning a gold medal at the Asian Olympic qualifiers.

Seen as one of the most open categories, Sumit has the chance to really make a mark at the grandest stage. He will face stiff competition from Cuba`s Julio Cesar la Cruz.

Devendro Singh (49kg), Jai Bhagwan (60kg), and Manoj Kumar (64kg) are the other Indians taking part.