New Delhi: In a massive fillip to the still nascent professional boxing scene in India, the country will host its maiden WBA-sanctioned fight card here on Saturday under the aegis of the Indian Boxing Council.
The six bouts to be held at the Sri Fort Sports Complex, will be all-Indian affairs featuring national-level boxers with officials from the World Boxing Association (WBA) supervising the fights which will be conducted by the Indian Boxing Council (IBC).
WBA is one of the four international bodies which sanction title bouts in professional boxing.
The four-round contests will feature Siddharth Varma (super welterweight), Sukhwinder (cruiserweight), Manoj Grewal (heavyweight) and Sumit Rangi (heavyweight) who have had national careers over the last 10 years in addition.
"India is going to become a great country in the professional circuit. We are mighty impressed with how the IBC is moving forward in promoting professional boxing," WBA's Regional development Adviser Stanley Christodoulou told PTI.
Christodoulou was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2004. He was the first man to referee world title fights in all 17 weight categories, and the third to oversee 100 world title bouts.
"It is the first step towards making India a powerhouse in pro boxing. We will continue to support IBC with technical guidance and of course being a sanctioning authority as well," Christodoulou said.
"WBA has embraced India and hopefully we will have world championships bouts as well in the future," he added.
The WBA's delegation, which also includes its European Coordinator Mariana Borissova and Medical Commission member Dr John Hartley Fleming, also held a seminar for the IBC's technical officials to prepare them for pro bouts.
Apart from the fight card, the IBC also announced a major change to its registration process for boxers wanting to sign up for the pro circuit.
The minimum age cap, which was originally set for 23, was lowered to 18.
"This has been done to ensure that boxers are clear about what they want in life. Those who want to fight only in the pro circuit deserve to register early and have a shot at perhaps the world titles," IBC President Brig (retd) P K M Raja said.
Christodoulou said India has the potential to produce a world champion.
"We hope to open the doors for the conduct of regional and later the world title bouts in India. Given the abundant talent here, I am sure this country can produce a champion," he said.