Indian boxers advised against closed guard in Astana

New Delhi: India's boxing coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu has asked his wards to let go of their closed guard and to be aggressive in the Asian Olympic qualifiers to be held in Astana, Kazakhstan, from Wednesday.

Beijing Games bronze medallist Vijender Singh (75kg) Suranjoy Singh (52kg), Shiva Thapa (56kg), Sumit Sangwan (81kg), Manpreet Singh (91kg) and Paramjeet Samota (+91kg) are geared up to book their London berth from the tournament that offers 25 Olympic slots in 10 weight categories.

After the boxing team's last training session here at the Karnail Singh Stadium Monday, before leaving for Astana, Sandhu said new scoring rules favour aggressive boxers and he has told the his wards to drop down their guard before going for the kill.

"They (boxers) have been told to do away with the closed guard and land as many punches as possible to ensure that judges can see the aggression. Now it is all about the rate at which you land punches because the bouts have become very high scoring," Sandhu said.

"The boys have also been told not to back-paddle too much as that is perceived to be a defensive tactic. They should not keep a shell guard. But as and when the situation demands, they should be able to adjust," he said.

The coach remains optimistic about the chances of the six boxers qualifying chances in the tournament. Four Indian boxers L.Devendro Singh (49kg), Jai Bhagwan (60kg), Manoj Kumar (64kg) and Vikas Krishan (69kg) have already booked their ticket to London.

"I expect at least two boxers to qualify from this tournament. Vijender also has a good chance, he has trained hard and is in top form. I am confident of his chances this time," said Sandhu.

Foriegn coach Blas Iglesias Fernandes, a Cuban, concurred with Sandhu and said said anything above two Olympic berths would be considered as a brilliant performance.

"I am expecting a minimum of two that would make it a very happy situation. If we come back with three, that would be just brilliant," said Fernandes.

Sandhi said his boys are now better prepared to handle prepared.

"The stress that comes with expectations is there but we have learnt to deal with it. The key is in fighting with a stress-free mind," said Sandhu. (IANS)