Indian boxer Ashish Kumar loses heartbreakingly in a “epic” CWG quarterfinal match in “one of the best amateur battles ever”


On Wednesday, August 3, 2022, in Birmingham, England, during the men’s Light Heavy (75-80 Kg) division boxing quarterfinal fight, India’s Ashish Kumar and Aaron Bowen of England trade blows.

The carefree jiving of the feet. The limbs had an amazing looseness. On occasion, he would lunge forward with his hands by his sides, seemingly encouraging his opponent to take a shot. which Aaron Bowen of England did. Backing off, Ashish would flail his hands. Up until the last seconds of the fight, Aaron was more composed, moving in a pattern and jabbing helpfully. However, then even he became as out of control as Ashish, sending two sets of limbs flying in search of a pound of flesh to land. It was exciting, gut-wrenching, and, um, enjoyable.

Ashish Kumar was declared the loser in a divided decision. Being a collector of split-decision defeats in international events, he must be familiar with the sensation by this point. While India was sound asleep one wonderful night in Birmingham, he stirred to make sure his people would use the Sony Liv app to watch the match the next day.

Could he have been more precise throughout the opening two rounds? Has an old problem recurred? After the Asian Championships of 2019, Nieva, the high performance director, summed up Ashish’s approach as follows: “But occasionally, lack of international experience shows. He has a tendency to fight too much. excessive fighting that is unnecessary. His footwork and positioning can be erratic.

The wrong kind of combatant. That seems like a really kind compliment. It’s not a compliment in the professional world, not even in so-called amateur boxing matches. But to a casual observer, that mentality is what made the fight exciting to watch. While Ashish’s posture wasn’t always random, Aaron’s deft motions emphasised the impression. Because his blows appeared to land more. The referees were perfect. For the CWG, Ashish was practising in Ireland. The federation released a number of videos. I’ve practised punching with a handler inside, by myself with a punching bag, and even once while walking down the street. The Irish would not have cared since they enjoy boxing. Since his first-round defeat at the Tokyo Olympics, he has put in a lot of effort. That upset him.

He immediately went to his boxing academy after arriving in Sundar Nagar, Himachal Pradesh, from Tokyo. to express regret for the loss. “ “I lost the first match, which was incredibly difficult,” I lost because I was very aggressive and the defence wasn’t very good, he would explain. He did pick up a lesson. Particularly when he first started yesterday night, his defence appeared to be tighter. However, Aaron’s fists would manage to get through. It was amazing to watch Ashish’s counterpunches, and the outcome was really close. We won’t know for sure until he talks about this fight, but it seemed like Ashish had put his previous mental weakness—a lack of conviction in his delivery—behind him. It hurted him in the past.

“I’ve always been an aggressive and outgoing player. But whenever someone advised me to use greater caution, I would immediately withdraw into myself. For a referee, that would be it if I dropped the opening round. Even if you completely dominated the final round, you would still lose. So it kind of turned into a mental barrier,” he previously told this newspaper. same as he did in the Asian Championship final in 2019. He abruptly changed tactics, trying something new, and his “opponent overwhelmed me.”

The competitive category played a role in the lack of conviction, as previously mentioned on these pages. That a younger Ashish has spent a lot of time in camp working as his seniors’ assistant or sparring partner. When Ashish finally began to compete in a division where India had produced legends like Vijender Singh and Vikas Krishnan, his impatience had crept in, and his own near-misses had caused Ashish to doubt himself.

He won his first international gold at the Thailand Open in 2019, which marked a turning point. “I felt very anxious. I was wondering if I would be able to perform or not. However, I had already visited Bangkok. The coaches were also behind me. And after achieving my first victory over a local fighter, I felt as though my anxiety had subsided. After that, I felt really confident in my abilities, and I had a feeling I was going to take home my first international gold.

“I now feel a lot more confident. much lighter. I don’t know why I used to be so timid, he had added then, “especially now when the coaches and everyone else are telling me that I have the skill. Since then, he has tightened up his technique, learned how to trust his instincts, and, as Neiva would explain after winning the Thailand Open, “knows when to avoid fighting.” In the CWG quarterfinal match, everything came together exhilaratingly, but it wasn’t enough. The slimmest of margins.