London, Aug 7: India's star boxer Vijender Singh's dream to become the first Indian individual athlete to win medals in two successive Olympic Games came crashing down as he lost his quarterfinal bout against his Uzbekistan opponent in the men's middle weight category.
The 26-year-old Vijender fought gallantly but was found wanting against his strong Uzbek opponent Abbos Atoev who carved out a 17-13 victory in a nerve wracking contest at the ExCel Arena here tonight.
After MC Mary Kom romped into the semi-finals of the women's 51 kg category earlier in the day, the spotlight was on Vijender to assure India of at least another bronze medal but that did not materialise as the Indian bowed out of the competitions much to the dismay of millions of Indian supporters.
The ExCel arena was packed with flag-waving Indian spectators who lustily cheered Vijender the moment he stepped onto the ring and the decibel level increased after every bout.
Vijender, a bronze medal winner in the Beijing Olympic Games four years ago, just could not raise the tempo when it mattered the most as his Uzbek rival intelligently fended off his punches and launched counter attacks.
The Indian, who had carved out a hard-fought 16-15 victory over Terrell Gausha of the USA in the quarterfinals on Aug 2, began cautiously and was quite content in gauging the strategy of his Uzbek opponent in the first round which ended 3-3.
Spurred on by the vociferous crowd which kept chanting "India, India", Vijender began the second round well with a barrage of left and right punches which left the Uzbek dazed.
But he showed tremendous character to regain his composure and peg the Indian back with his deadly left punches. Atoev turned the table in his favour in the second round which he won 7-5. In a desperate to make amends in the third and final round, Vijender went all out on the attack.
But in the process, he allowed his opponent to consolidate his position a little bit as he left his guard open, and though he landed a few punches, it was not enough to give him a clear lead.
As a result, the third round ended with 7-5 scoreline. Vijender, a former world number one, adapted a more attacking strategy in the third and final round but the Uzbekistan boxer 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 Indian crowd went silent as the Uzbek was declared the winner. Atoev will now take on second seeded Ryota Murata of Japan in the semi-finals to be held on Aug 10. Murata defeated Adem Klucci of Turkey 17-13 in the quarterfinals.