Feisty Devendro goes down fighting against Barnes of Ireland

London: India`s male boxers will return empty-handed from the Olympics after last man in fray Devendro Singh (49kg) lost in the quarterfinals despite putting on a gallant fight against Ireland`s Paddy Barnes in a contest marred by debatable refereeing at the Excel Arena here.

The 20-year-old fought his heart out Wednesday night but could not prevail over his stronger opponent who scripted a 23-18 victory to romp into the semifinals.

But the high-scoring result left the Indian contingent fuming as they claimed that the refereeing had gone heavily against the diminutive Manipuri who was warned once in the second round for head-butting his opponent.

With Devendro`s exit, the Indian challenge in the boxing ring came to an end with only M C Mary Kom providing the spark with a historic bronze medal in women`s boxing which was introduced in the Olympics for the first time.

Seven male boxers were in fray here, including 2008 Games bronze-medallist Vijender Singh (75kg), who also lost in the quarterfinals.

Barnes will take on top seed Zhou Shiming of China in the semifinals on August 10. Zhou defeated Birzhan Zhakypov of Kazakhstan 13-10 in his quarterfinal bout.

The Indians were livid with the decision which they claimed had been extremely unfair on Devendro.

"There were so many mistakes against our boxers. He (Barnes) was not hitting the right spots and still getting points. It was not fair," India`s Cuban coach B I Fernandez said after the bout.

On the mood in the Indian boxing camp, Fernandez said, "It`s very difficult. We deserved to get a medal here."

National coach Gurbakhsh Singh Sandhu said some times referees get influenced by the crowd and Devendro was hit hard by that.

On the performance of the Indian team, Sandhu said, "I am extremely happy with the overall performance of the Indian boxers. But I am very sad also because I think I am responsible for not being able to translate those performances into medal winning performances."