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Shiva youngest Indian boxer to qualify for Olympics

New Delhi: Shiva Thapa (56kg) today became the youngest Indian boxer to make the cut for the Olympics by reaching the final but the already-qualified Vijender Singh (75kg) bowed out after losing in the last-four stage of the Asian Qualifiers` in Astana, Kazakhstan today.

The 18-year-old Shiva defeated Japan`s Satoshi Simizu 31-17 to enter the final and book himself a London berth. "It was a superb performance. He was down a point in the first round due to overt aggression but did not panic and played from medium range in the next two rounds to win and win big," national coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu told PTI from Astana. "Most of his points came through right straight punches," he added.

A 19-year-old L Devendro Singh had booked his London berth in the last year`s World Championships, tying with Debendra Singh (1996 Atlanta) as the youngest Indian boxer to make the Olympics. But the 1993-born Shiva has broken this record.

The Assam teenager, playing only his second senior international event (he won a gold in the maiden), was down 6-7 in the opening round. But he turned the tables in the second round, taking a massive 15-6 lead. The final three minutes followed a similar script as Shiva clinched it with ease.

However, Olympic and World Championships bronze-medallist Vijender Singh (75kg), who is already assured of a London ticket, lost to Asian and Youth Olympics bronze-medallist Nursaat Pazziyev 10-7.

Vijender trailed 2-3 in the opening round as Pazziyev came up better on the accuracy graph with his combination punches. The 19-year-old was happy to guard and counter-attack, waiting for his 26-year-old Indian rival to make the first move and he managed to widen the lead to 6-4 at the end of the second round with this tactic.

Vijender seemed determined in the last three minutes but the sheer accuracy of Pazziyev was hard to deal with for the former world number one as he settled for a bronze and an Olympic berth at the event.

Four Indian boxers – L Devendro Singh (49kg), Jai Bhagwan (60kg), Manoj Kumar (64kg) and Vikas Krishan (69kg) – booked their Olympic berths in last year`s World Championship.

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