India’s hopes of boxing glory suffered a blow on Monday, as four of the country’s seven semifinalists failed to win through to the finals on a day dominated by the British ‘home nations’.
The biggest defeat came when England’s Anthony Ogogo beat world number one and Olympic bronze medallist Vijender Singh in a bad-tempered middleweight bout.
Amandeep Singh (light flyweight), Jai Bhagwan (lightweight) and Dilbag Singh (welterweight) also crashed out, disappointing a noisy, partisan crowd at the Talkatora Indoor Stadium.
Ogogo’s high-profile win had been billed as the battle between the sometime male model and former television reality show contestant and the sport’s poster boy in India.
“He is like the Indian (David) Beckham, but I’ve been his Achilles heel. I’ve beaten him, I’ve toppled him and I can’t believe it. I’m so happy,” said the 21-year-old, who won few friends by blowing a kiss to the crowd afterwards.
“No disrepect to the Indian crowd. They’ve shown nothing but hospitality to us. I wasn’t taking the mickey. I blew a kiss because I wanted to thank them.”
Singh refused to speak to waiting reporters after the fight.
There was better news for India though when flyweight Suranjoy Mayengbam, lightwelterweight Manoj Kumar and super heavyweight Paramjeet Samota won through to Wednesday’s final.
Mayengbam is favourite after victory in his bout against Pakistan’s Haroon Khan, whose brother is the 2004 Olympic silver medallist Amir Khan.
The younger Khan, who was born in Britain, chose to fight for the country of his parents’ birth after claiming he was snubbed by the England selectors.
“I think I’ve proved my point to the selectors. There wasn’t a British boxer in my category (in the semifinals),” said the 19-year-old. “I would love to see (the selectors) now. I should have won that medal for England.”
“My main aim was to come here and stand on that podium. I’ve got the bronze. I can put it next to my brother’s Olympic silver,” added Khan, who fought under his grandmother’s name Iqbal.
Northern Ireland was the outstanding team of the day after seeing all five of its boxers go through, including European champion Paddy Barnes who now faces Namibia’s Jafet Uutoni in the light flyweight final.
England is also guaranteed at least five silvers after Ogogo’s win and victories for middleweight Bradley Saunders, heavyweight Simon Vallily, welterweight Callum Smith and lightweight Tom Stalker.
Scotland has two men in the finals, while young Wales bantamweight Sean McGoldrick made it through to the last two in his first senior tournament by beating the silver medallist from Melbourne in 2006, Louis Julie of Mauritius.
The 18-year-old from Newport, who faces Manju Wanniarachchi of Sri Lanka, said he should have been at school instead of in the ring.
“I’m sure the teachers will excuse me,” he joked.
Wanniarachchi’s appearance in the final comes after he secured the island nation its first Commonwealth boxing medal for 60 years on Sunday.
England’s Saunders praised all the British finalists and said the Games were a key stepping stone to success at the London Olympics in 2012.
“We’ve got a brilliant team,” he told reporters. “Callum Smith is a sure winner. Tom Stalker showed what he had to do... The lads are doing fantastic. We could have had another one here with Khalid Yafai.”
Yafai, 21, is a former Commonwealth Youth Games medallist and fought at the last Olympics with Saunders. He had to withdraw due to injury.