London: Star Indian boxer Vijender Singh inched closer to an unprecedented second successive Olympic medal by entering the middleweight (75kg) quarterfinals with a thrilling one-point triumph over American Terrell Gausha at the ExCel Arena here.
The 26-year-old Indian, a bronze-medallist from the Beijing Olympic Games, is just one win away from being assured of another medal at the big event after he scraped past Gausha with a 16-15 verdict in a thrilling contest of skill and strategy.
"I admit I was very excited but I felt I had the measure of him and just needed to be prudent in the final round to ensure I got through," Vijender said after the bout.
Spurred on by a vociferous crowd which kept chanting 'India, India', Vijender took a slender one-point lead after the first round which ultimately proved decisive. In the second round, Vijender allowed his opponent to come back a little bit as he let his guard down and though he landed a few punches, it was not enough to give him a clear lead. As a result, the second round ended with a 5-5 scoreline.
Vijender adopted a more attacking strategy in the third and final round but the American was equal to the task as he fended off the punches deftly and counter-attacked fiercely. As the two boxers waited for the result, the crowd kept cheering for Vijender and a roar erupted in the stadium when he was declared the winner.

"The coaches were saying calm down, calm down otherwise you will blow the fight," Vijender said. "Everyone is tuning in to their TV's in India and watching me. It is a great honour but also puts on me a huge duty to reward their faith that they placed in me."
Vijender, a former world number one, will now take on Abbos Atoev of Uzbekistan in the quarter finals. Atoev prevailed over Bogdan Juratoni of Russia 12-10 in the pre-quarter finals.
The Indian starts a clear favourite against the Uzbek as Vijender had blanked him 7-0 in the 2010 Asian Games final, that too with an injured hand.


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