On a disappointing day for India’s boxing contingent, Vikas Krishan Yadav became the final boxer to exit the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, losing to Uzbekistan’s Bektemir Melikuziev in the quarterfinals of the middleweight (75 kg) category. Melikuziev was adjudged the victor by unanimous decision in a fight where the 20-year-old 2015 World Championship Silver medallist dominated.
A strong Indian crowd made its presence felt at the Riocentro Pavilion as Vikas entered the ring with the prospect of a win assuring him of a medal serving as a motivating factor. In the build-up to the fight, Vikas had hinted that he would have to be at peak, physically and mentally, if he had to get past the Uzbek’s challenge.
The 24-year-old began well enough, moving intelligently and dancing out of Melikuziev’s early forays. However, the Indian failed to attack convincingly and the opponent managed to land a few of his big left hands to take the first round by a 10-9 margin. In the second round, it was imperative that Vikas be aggressive if he wanted to come out of the bout with anything to show for. However, the tentativeness that marked his first round was on display again and Melikuziev exacted a price for it. Two big uppercuts were buttressed with a stinging right jab which seemed to unsettle Vikas.
The Indian fought back gamely, trying to get in on the inside of the Uzbek boxer but unfortunately on a day where not a lot of Vikas’ plans worked, Melikuziev was hardly troubled, taking the victory in relative ease.
While Vikas admitted that he had not done enough over the three rounds, he maintained that the first had been a very close affair. "I think I landed a number of clear punches in the first round but the result unfortunately was not in my favour. Having won the first round, the opponent was full of confidence and came out really strong in the next round. I had a few plans for him. I wanted to minimise his use of his left hand and I thought I started off doing it well. Unfortunately I could not continue and it came back to hurt me," he said.