This piece was published in Sportskeeda
Indian men’s boxing contingent were expected to find the ‘going tough’ at the 2015 AIBA World Championship in Doha but what came as a huge surprise for Indian boxing fans was the ‘unexpected’ and ‘stunning’ opening round defeat of Laishram Devendro Singh.
The 23-year-old Manipuri boxer enjoys a world ranking of number 3 in the light flyweight category (49 kg) and was widely tipped to make at least the semifinals. He shot into prominence with a quarterfinal-finish at the 2011 AIBA World Championship in Baku, in the process sealing an Olympic berth and caused more than a flutter romping into the quarterfinals of the London Olympics before losing to Ireland’s Paddy Barnes.
The opening round loss of the Army boxer was hard to swallow as much was expected from him. Call it what you may, Devendro did not quite get a favourable draw and ran into European Championships silver-medallist Harvey Horn of England in the first round. The bout was closely fought as the 20-year-old Harvey was not daunted by the brutal reputation of Devendro. The Indian, who likes to play with an open guard, was caught napping by the counter-punching from Harvey eventually losing the bout by split decision as the Englishman did the most important thing of seizing the first round.
“I did not get to watch the bout but Devendro’s first round defeat was shocking for all boxing lovers of the country. We expected him to march through the early rounds and his opening round exit was very much on unexpected lines,” says former Asian Games gold medallist and Olympian Dingko Singh.
Dingko, who captured the public imagination when he toppled the world number three and world number five boxers en route to gold at the 1998 Bangkok Asiad, believes Devendro’s ‘all out aggression’ has to be backed by proper technique. “Devendro is a hugely talented boxer but I think his only weakness is that he tries to be aggressive sans proper tactics. There is nothing wrong in being aggressive but one has to mix aggression by reading the opponent and play accordingly,” the 2000 Sydney Olympian observes.
From the highs of reaching the quarterfinals of the 2012 London Olympics to winning a silver medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and a quarterfinal exit at the 2014 Asian Games, one is left wondering whether Devendro’s game has hit a downward spiral. “I’m sure he will bounce back. More international exposure will help him as only training hard does not allow you to know where you stand. Match practice and sparring against quality boxers are a ‘must’ for improvement. He has to strategize properly before every round and play each round with a plan,” Dingko quips.
Devendro may have missed out on an Olympic berth at the 2015 AIBA World Championship in Doha, but still all doors are not closed for him as he has two continental events lined up next year to make the Olympic cut. One hopes Devendro learns from the recent World Championship experience and comes out all guns blazing in future.