India's hopes of winning a bagful of gold medals from boxing at the Commonwealth Games suffered a setback, as their three pugilists lost their semi-final bouts at the Talkatora stadium in New Delhi on Monday.
Commonwealth Championships gold medallist Amandeep Singh (49kg), Asian silver-medallist Jai Bhagwan (60kg) and nine-time national champion Dilbag Singh (69kg) had to be content with bronze medals after losing in the semi-finals.
Amandeep lost 0-5 to Olympic bronze medallist and European champion Paddy Barnes of Northern Ireland, Jai went down 5-10 to European Championships silver winner Thomas Stalker of England and Dilbag was beaten 4-5 in a thrilling contest by Northern Ireland's Patrick Gallagher.
Amandeep was the first to take the ring, and he just could not break through Barnes's defences.
The Punjab-boxer tried everything, from hooks to uppercuts to some hard-hitting straight punches, but the Irish boxer did not yeild to the crowd favourite.
The first round had Barnes leading 2-0 and the Olympian's brilliant anticipation of Amandeep's attack ensured that he did not concede a single point even in the next two rounds.
"I tried everything to break his guard, but it just didn't happen. I was hitting a lot of uppercuts, but it didn't work," said a disappointed Amandeep.
"But I am happy to have won a medal in my very first Commonwealth Games," he added.
Next up was Jai, and despite putting up a good fight, the Indian was undone by a couple of warnings that seemed too harsh. The Asian silver-medallist was warned twice for hitting Stalker below the waistline in an ill-tempered bout.
Jai led 3-1 in the opening round, but the advantage was reduced to 4-3 when he was warned for hitting Stalker below the target area not once but twice.
The warnings ultimately shifted the momentum in the Englishman's favour, who found himself leading only towards the end of the second round.
Once ahead, Stalker lowered his guard and went for all-out attack against Jai, who could not adjust to the sudden change in the pace of the proceedings.
"The warnings were slightly harsh. I think the first time around, I hit him only on his hand but, maybe, the referee didn't get a clear view of where exactly the punch landed," Jai said.
"But every loss is a lesson and I will also learn from here. I will go back and see the recordings of the bout," he added.
Even Stalker felt that the local favourite put up a good fight.
"He was a tough opponent and hit some very hard punches," he said.
Dilbag was the last Indian to step inside the arena in the first session and he gave it his all against Gallagher only to lose the bout by a whisker.
The entertaining contest had both the boxers employing unorthodox tactics and the crowd was kept amused with a bit of 'wrestling' as well.
The first round ended 1-1 as both tried to probe each other, but Gallagher began to get a grip of the proceedings with some smartly-executed jabs even while keeping a shell guard to thwart the Indian.
Dilbag bounced back in the final three minutes but Gallagher's evasive tactics ensured that the Indian could not breach his lead.
In the evening session, world No 1 Vijender Singh (75kg), Asian champion Suranjoy Singh (52kg), Manoj Kumar (64kg) and Commonwealth Championships gold-medallist Paramjeet Samota (+91kg) will aim for a berth in the October 13 finals.