Vijender Singh vs Francis Cheka: "I Don't Care If Cheka Is A Superstar"
Indian boxing ace Vijender Singh is about to face the toughest challenge of his glittering professional career when he takes on Intercontinental Super Middleweight Champion Francis Cheka on December 17.
New Delhi: For those who have followed Indian ace boxer and Olympic medallist Vijender Singh’s career, they would know that the 31-year old is as much a showman as he is an ace pugilist.
From winning India’s first ever Olympic medal in boxing at the 2008 Beijing Games to making a swashbuckling transition to the professional circuit, the Bhiwani boy has done it all with an unmatched swag.
Vijender, who won his seventh professional bout on the trot when he beat Australian Kerry Hope in July this year in New Delhi, is about to face the toughest challenge of his glittering professional career when he takes on Intercontinental Super Middleweight Champion Francis Cheka on December 17 at the Thyagaraj Stadium in the national capital.
Vijender has been training hard for the bout in Manchester and sounded confident about his chances during an exclusive telephonic interview with News18.com.
On being asked about facing an experienced boxer like Cheka, Vijender answered in his unmistakably maverick tone, "I am a professional boxer. I have experience. My country India’s love and the support of the fans is with me. I will take Francis Cheka as I have tackled my previous opponents. May be a knock-out punch will be enough," the Haryana lad says.
Vijender, who currently holds the WBO Asia Pacific Super Middleweight title, has had it rather easy in his professional career so far and his unbeaten record manifests the same. Something, which prompted the former WBF world champion Cheka to take a dig at him.
The 34-year old Tanzanian has started playing mindgames and has been quite vocal in his contempt for Vijender, saying that "there is a lot of hype surrounding India’s golden boy and he will put him (Vijender) in his place".
But Vijender, too, is an experienced fighter and paid no heed to Cheka’s claims and threats when being asked about it: "(Laughing) A message to Cheka: Jo garajte hain woh baraste nahin, jo baraste hain woh garajte hahin (loosely translates to thundering clouds seldom rain). This is all I want to say in reply. I just want to answer in the ring. Let the best one win the fight."
Francis Cheka has been a professional boxer for 17 years now and has been one of the big names in the division along with the likes of Paul Smith, Matthew Macklin and Fedor Chudinov. Chekha is a veteran of 43 fights and has 32 wins, 17 of them coming by way of knock-outs. But these numbers will not bog down Vijender, who dismisses his opponents claims and achievements with nonchalance.
"I never bother about my opponent’s records and achievements. I don’t care if Cheka is a superstar and if he has won world championships. He may have experience with him, I too have my Olympic medal with me. A fight decides the winner not records. If he will perform in the rounds, he will win and if I perform, I will take the title. I will see him in the ring,” Vijender says.
The fight against Kerry Hope in July was the longest time Vijender has spent inside the ring to clinch a win since turning pro. He scored 98-92, 98-92, 100-90 to clinch the title in front of a jam-packed Thyagaraj Stadium in New Delhi, and the Olympic bronze medallist is confident about keeping his unbeaten run intact.
"I will try to continue my winning run. I have a 7-0 record and I am sure it will be 8-0. I have trained hard and worked a lot on myself. All I want to say that – I am ready."
The Olympic bronze medallist is confident that fighting in front of his home crowd will boost his chances and expects the fans to back him to the hilt. Don’t forget, Vijender also won a bronze medal in the 2010 Commonwealth Games while fighting in front of a boisterous home crowd.
"It is a different feeling when you fight in front of your own people. Chants of ‘Viju', ‘Viju' are still fresh in my mind. I want to thank my country for the immense support. Last time when I won the title, I got a lot of boost from the positive energy all around. This time, I am coming to defend my title and I am sure I will get the same kind of support from my friends," Vijender said.
Vijender has been training hard for this bout in Manchester and sounded extremely satisfied about his preparations.
"Training is done. India is with me. Bas jana hai aur phatte chak dene hain ab toh (just want to go and give my best) and rest will be left to God. Win and loss are the part of the game," he adds.
Since professional boxers are allowed to participate in the Olympics now, Vijender hopes he will be able to represent the country at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
"Honestly, I would love to. Tokyo 2020 is pretty far. Four years is a big period for me. But, if I will get a chance I will surely go for it," Vijender says.
The tickets for the bout between Cheka and Vijender, which is being promoted as “The Night of the Champions”, have been selling like hot cakes and come December 17 the entire country will join hands to cheer for Indian boxing’s poster boy.
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