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September 24, 2000
Gurcharan Singh comes out swingingThe Rediff Team
It wasn't pretty. But then, this was a boxing ring, not a beauty contest.
India's Gurcharan Singh outclassed South African Danie Venter to win his Round 2 bout in the men's 81-kg (light heavyweight) class to enter the quarterfinals. The decision was an RSCH -- Referee Stops Contest -- Headblow, one minute and 33 seconds into the fourth and final round.
The 6'3", 23-year-old Singh is not a pretty boxer, preferring to stand flat on his feet rather than adopt the more classic on-your-toes style. But what he can do, is punch. Known as one of the hardest hitters on the Asian circuit, Singh today came out in a furious flurry of arms, on the attack from the opening bell.
Venter, a boxer more in the classic style, didn't have clue. Expecting an opponent who would box the traditional jab and dance style and look for openings, he was confronted by an Indian who started swinging and kept swinging, long arms windmilling away in a seemingly endless flurry.
Every now and again, Singh would land one -- and when he did, it hurt. The first round was reasonably even, though, with Venter absorbing the shock of the early attack and, towards the end of the round, landing a couple of nice punches in his own turn, to have the score 5-4 at the end of round one.
The second round saw Singh almost sprinting out of his corner, catching Venter as he was moving towards the centre with a long, loping right that rocked his South African opponent back on his toes. A flurry of punches and counter-punches later, Singh came up with a one-two -- a long jab with his left, a roundhouse to the jaw with his right, to have the referee stop the bout for a mandatory eight-count. That round went to the Indian 6-4.
Within 30 seconds of the start of the third round, Singh was doing it again, landing a lovely right to the side of his opponent's head for the referee to give Vinter an eight-count. The RSA boxer shook his head, steamed back in and took another right, for another 8-count. 10-3 Singh in the round, 21-11 overall, and with just one round to go, the Indian appeared to have the bout locked.
Round four was a reprise of the earlier ones with Singh, if anything, even more frenetic in assault. The Indian boxer just kept boring in, ignoring his opponent's attempts to keep him at bay with quick jabs, taking them on his arms and letting fly with his long reach to score points in rapid succession. A short arm jab that took Vinter on the chin and rocked him back had the referee stopping proceedings to give the RSA boxer another standing 8-count, after which he called off the bout, giving the win to the Indian.
The fourth round was scored 5-3 for Singh, for an overall tally of 26-14.
Singh is a large-hearted boxer with an aggressive style, capable of absorbing punishment and keeping up a non-stop barrage of punches aimed at wearing down the opposition. And to his credit, he uses his reach well, and is fairly accurate with his punches, landing enough scoring shots where they count.
On the flip side, his lack of footwork, arising from a very flat-footed style, and a complete lack of defensive boxing skills could be his weaknesses, when he comes up against the more experienced boxers from Central Europe, Cuba and America. Noticeably, when comfortably ahead on points, the high-ranked boxers tend to settle back into a defensive, energy-saving style that lets them see off their opponents with ease. Singh, though leading 21-11 in the third round and in total control, continued to box in his highly risky fashion, and that is one area where his seconds could step in to cool the boxer down.
One thing, though -- the relentless aggression Singh displays will be quite a handful for even the most experienced to cope with.
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