| London: The hype is increasing and so is the pressure as Indian boxers begin their prequarterfinal campaign in the London Olympics 2012 with Vijender Singh (75kg) and Jai Bhagwan (60kg) taking on tricky opponents in their last-16 stage bouts on Thursday.
Beijing Olympics bronze-medallist Vijender will be up against American Olympic Qualification Tournament gold-medallist Terrell Gausha of the United States.
Jai, on the other hand, will square off against Gani Zhailauov of Kazakhstan.
While Vijender would be facing Gousha for the first time, Jai would have revenge on his mind as he lost to Zhailauov by just a point in the quarter-finals of the World Championships last year.
The overall record between the two boxers is tied at 1-1.
The 26-year-old Vijender, making a record third Olympic appearance in boxing, is aiming to better the colour of his medal in the British capital where the expatriates have come out in droves to support the boxers.
"Vijender`s opponent has both stance. He can box both as a southpaw and with an orthodox style. But we are positive about getting a favourable result. Vijender is full of confidence," national coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu said.
Talking about the challenge facing Jai, who is an Asian Championships silver-medallist, Sandhu said, "The Kazakh guy is world number five and the bout will be very tough."
"The overall record says 1-1 but Jai says `sir, it is my turn now`. It`s a contact sport at the end of the day and you never know how lucky or unlucky you would be. So, we can just focus on giving a good account of ourselves," he added.
Of the seven male boxers who qualified for the Olympics, two -- Shiva Thapa (56kg) and Sumit Sangwan (81kg) -- lost in the first round but Sandhu said the team is still quite upbeat.
"The disappointment is behind us now because our boys fought well even when they lost. Overall, the boys are very positive and mood in the team is good," said Sandhu.
Apart from Vijender and Jai, the other Indian boxers in the pre-quarters are L Devendro Singh (49kg), Manoj Kumar (64kg) and third seed Vikas Krishan (69kg), who got a first-round bye.
First Published: Wednesday, August 01, 2012, 13:33