Vijender aims for another knockout

Fighting his first bout at home since turning professional last year, Vijender is confident of continuing his reign as the ‘knockout king’.

Vijender Singh and Australia's Kerry Hope face off at the weigh-in ceremony on the eve of their fight for the WBO Asia Pacific Super Middleweight Championship, in New Delhi on Friday.   -  PTI

Aiming for his seventh knockout win in as many fights, local favourite Vijender Singh has admitted this would be the toughest test yet when he faces off against Australian Kerry Hope for the WBO Asia Pacific super middleweight boxing championship title here on Saturday.

Fighting his first bout at home since turning professional last year, Vijender is confident of continuing his reign as the ‘knockout king’. “It’s the Asia-Pacific title — we are both fighting, so whoever wins will climb to 15th in the world. The real show starts now and it will be one more step towards the world title,” Vijender said on Friday, during the customary weigh-in ahead of the fight.

The fight would be preceded by seven under-card bouts featuring 11 Indians, including a women’s match. Hope, though, would be no pushover and with a 23-7 record over a decade of professional boxing, knows it will be a battle of confidence versus experience. He also admitted that there would be a lot of crowd support for his opponent but insisted that his training and experience had prepared him for it.

“I have been training very hard in Brisbane while he doesn’t look as if he’s been training. I have been there, done that, I know what it’s like being in your home town. The pressure is on this guy. When you can’t do what you want to do, that’s when you fall,” he said, keeping up the predicted trash-talk that accompanies every pro bout.

Vijender was measured in his response with a sense of humour. “I’ll show him, just wait for tomorrow. We’ll meet after the fight for dinner, I’ll show him around,” he said while adding that the most common question he has been asked so far is a request for passes! “If you go for a movie you pay for the ticket. Then why not for a boxing fight,” he said.

Aware that this fight may well decide the future of professional boxing in India, Vijender was also nostalgic of the city. “It’s been a long time. The last time I fought here was during the 2010 Commonwealth Games. It’s going to be a great night with lots of Indian boxers,” he said.