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If He Was World No. 3, I Have Olympic Medal: Vijender Singh Warns Rival


Last Updated: July 14, 2016, 14:17 IST

Vijender Singh and Kerry Hope. (Getty Images)

Vijender Singh and Kerry Hope. (Getty Images)

Vijender will be fighting for his professional title on July 16 in Delhi when he takes on former World No. 3 Kerry Hope for the WBO Asia Pacific super middleweight belt.

New Delhi: Vijender Singh's foray into professional boxing turned a new leaf for the sport in India. Not that an Indian amateur boxer had turned pro for the first time, but for an Olympic-medal winner to do so was not something that went down very well, until Vijender did what his friend Virender Sehwag made a habit of – hitting a six.

It had to be an individual decision, but to not see India's best boxer at another Olympics was something the country wasn't able to fathom. There were roadblocks but Vijender had belief in himself and the decision he had taken.

Little over a year on from that day, Vijender has fought six professional fights and has a clean slate showing 6-0.

"Whether I am an amateur or a professional boxer, I am still playing for India wherever I go," Vijender had said some time back.

The overwhelming success saw the country back rallying behind their favourite boxer, who was knocking his opponents out in the fast lane towards his first title fight for the WBO Asia Pacific super middleweight belt in two days' time at home here on Saturday.

Australia's Kerry Hope, who is a former WBC middleweight champion and a world No. 3, accepted the offer from Vijender's promoters, and the Indian was on for his biggest date in professional boxing.

But it won't be easy against a man who has already spent 12 years in professional boxing.

Excerpts from the interview:

Six wins in six matches, what has Vijender Started eating?

Nothing special. When I train with my coach, I get a lots of hard punches. That's the only thing (laughs). So when I enter the ring, I don't feel any pain because I have already gone through it (in training).

First fight in front of home crowd after turning pro - what's the feeling inside?

Last time I fought in India was in the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, so it's almost six years now. I am pretty much excited because a lot of people are expecting one more knockout. Let's see how it's going to be, but I am very much excited. People ask if there is pressure. I don't think there is pressure. (Instead) there is lots of energy. So I am ready for that.

Are you nervous?

No? Why? How? Absolutely not.

Kerry has two titles, you have none, but this is your first fight for a title?

Mere paas Olympic medal hai (I have an Olympic medal). Kerry is an experienced guy, but I have an Olympic medal, that's not a small thing. It's going to be an interesting match. The night will decide who is the best.

But you have more knockouts than Kerry, who has just two to his name?

Rest assured I will try for another knockout, give my 100 percent in the ring and do my best to knock him over.

Pro-boxers can now qualify for Olympics as well. Did it ever cross your mind that 'let me give it another shot'?

It did cross my mind for a moment as the qualification tournaments were going on, but then I said, it's fine.

Only three Indian boxers at the Olympics. I am sure it disappoints you as an Olympic medal winner.

Yes, I am disappointed. Last time in 2012 Olympics, we had eight boxers and now we have only three for Rio, which is not even half (of the contingent in London). It's not good for the sport.

You must have sent some personal invitations for the fight on July 16.

Yes, I have invited a lot of people, e-mailed them. I can't tell you that (the names), but I have invited the Prime Minister of India. I am not sure if he is free, but I will be glad if he comes.

Sehwag recently tweeted it's always fun to beat the Australians, because India and Australia share a cricket rivalry. And you will also be fighting an Australian in Kerry.

Like Sehwag bhai said, I too will enjoy if I am able to beat an Australian.

first published:July 14, 2016, 13:35 IST
last updated:July 14, 2016, 14:17 IST