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Colombia pictures: Martinez gives Pangal a rude awakening in maiden outing

Seeded No 1 in men’s 52-kg category, Amit was making his eagerly-awaited Olympic debut in Tokyo and was up against Colombia’s Yuberjen Martinez in the Round of 16.

Published: 01st August 2021 08:32 AM  |   Last Updated: 01st August 2021 08:32 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

CHENNAI:  “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” Boxing great Mike Tyson had famously said the line before his big fight against Evander Holyfield. Amit Panghal and his coaching staff found what he meant on Saturday. 

Seeded No 1 in men’s 52-kg category, Amit was making his eagerly-awaited Olympic debut in Tokyo and was up against Colombia’s Yuberjen Martinez in the Round of 16. The team strategy was simple: make a fast start, try and get the opening two rounds in the bag and then manage the final three minutes. Amit followed the script and did enough to pocket the first. But that was that. By winning the opener, he had woken up the lion in Martinez.

Soon after the sound of the bell for Round 2, Martinez — sensing that he’s behind — came out like a beast and was all over the Indian, catching him totally off guard. Amit did try to deliver  counter-punches but it seemed futile as Martinez continued to land  those telling blows with accuracy. Forget about his plans, it was about surviving the onslaught for the Indian. The judges’ scores confirmed  Martinez’s dominance. He had deservedly won it.

Going into the third and final round, both the fighters were eq­ual on points. With barely much time to catch his breath, Am­it soon found himself trying to evade Martinez’s heavy pu­nches. Buoyed after the second-round performance, Martinez kept up the intensity level as Amit just couldn’t play to his strengths. After the end of the contest, Martinez raised both his hands, quite confident he had done enough to merit a win. Amit, meanwhile, seemed to be trying to catch his breath.

Martinez’s assertion was right. He had done enough to seal the win.  “Our game plan was to get the first and the second round. But it is tough to execute your plan. When he was fresh (opening), he was scoring and winning. You would think that Amit would be fresh, but Martinez was relentless and left him powerless,” Santiago Nieva, India high performance manager, told this daily.

Going into the fight, Amit had entered the contest as the favourite. But Martinez is a Rio Olympics silver medallist for a reason, albeit in lower-weight category. This was always going to be a tough fight. “You feel Amit. He’s devastated. He wanted to do well for his family, for himself. Nobody wants to led do­wn the country. This is a tou­gh loss, not much you can say for now,” Nieva said.

Anticipating this fight, Amit had had recently sparred with the Colombian during the te­a­m’s training camp in Italy. He had three one on one sparring sessions. Those sessions had been tough too, according to Nieva but they had entered this contest with optimism after the Indian had delivered his best in the last session. “We had entered this fight with lot of hope and we knew it was going to be a tough fight. He is an Olympic silver medallist and has years of experience. Like Amit is for India, he is the face of boxing in Colombia,” Nieva said. 

“We have to analyse the fight closely. I don’t think there’s a single reason on why Amit missed out. It’s a tough loss. We need to see where we can improve and become stronger. But I can say Martinez is one of the main reason why he lost. He really stepped up,” he added.
 

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