Delhi: India’s golden boy Vijender Singh has enjoyed a memorable 2016. This Saturday he has the chance to sign off with another big win when he makes the first defence of his WBO Asia Pacific Super Middleweight title against Tanzania’s former World Champion Francis Cheka.
Power-punching Singh kicked-off the year with a third round stoppage win over dangerous Hungarian Alexander Horvath at Liverpool’s Echo Arena before claiming another devastating knockout win over experienced Frenchman Matiouze Royer at London’s Copper Box Arena. He set himself up for a huge summer homecoming with yet another early stoppage win over Andrzej Soldra at the Bolton Whites Hotel in May.
Fresh from earning his first professional title in the WBO Asia Pacific Super-Middleweight Championship against Australia’s Kerry Hope in July, Singh leapfrogged up the WBO World rankings and now finds he sitting pretty in tenth place.
Undefeated Singh, 7-0 6 KO’s, outworked the experienced Hope over ten rounds to claim his first title in the paid ranks in front of a packed out Thyagaraj Stadium in New Delhi.
India’s first ever Olympic Games boxing medalist came away winning every round and claimed a well-deserved unanimous decision with scores of 98-92, 98-92 and 100-90 by the three judges. The tremendous reaction on social media from the stars of cricket and Bollywood personalities who were in attendance at ringside prove that history was well worth making.
For Singh, already a massive draw in his home country after his amateur exploits, it is now onwards and upwards and his promoter Neerav Tomar, MD, IOS Boxing Promotions, is currently plotting his next moves.
"It’s not about myself, it’s about my nation, my country,” Vijender said after winning his first title.
“This comes after a lot of hard work put in by me, my trainer and my team. I thank my coach, my promoter and my team who have done a fantastic job. I also thank the fans, the celebrities and sportspersons who came out to watch my fight.”
Singh will face the toughest test of his professional career when he takes on former World Champion Francis Cheka on Saturday. After racking up three big knockout wins in 2016, Singh is confident he can end the year with a bang by stopping Cheka and retaining his title for the people of India.
Cheka is a veteran of 43 fights with 32 wins including 17 KO’s. In a career spanning just under 17 years he has tested himself against top Super-Middleweight talent including former WBA World Champion Fedor Chudinov and three-time World title challenger Mathew Macklin.
Knockout king Singh insists he feels no pressure being the poster boy of Indian boxing and is predicting another memorable night in New Delhi. “Cheka is a highly-experienced boxer, he has many bouts under his belt but I am the younger, stronger and hungrier fighter,” said Singh. “He is coming to my homeland to take what is mine but I won’t let this happen. The Thyagaraj Stadium is my patch now and I’m expecting another huge crowd to come and support me.”
“I am confident of getting another win, I feel my stance is becoming better with every training session and on top of that I feel more powerful than ever. On December 17 you will all see the results of the hard work and dedication that goes on behind the scenes.
This is my title and I’ll be protecting it with pride. The support that I receive both here in the UK and back home in India is overwhelming. I’ll pay back everyone’s support and retain my title for the people of India!” he added.
If Singh overcomes his latest challenge on Saturday then 2017 could be an even bigger year than 2016. Expect Singh to further expand his already bulging fan club with a huge fight in Leicester being touted for early next year. Nearly 30% of Leicester’s population is Asian, making it a perfect city to build Singh’s fan base.
Neerav Tomar spoke for Vijender, “ He has been a very well mannered and soft spoken boxer, but when it comes to his punching ability, he is better than anyone else who I have come across. I am sure, he will put a great show and will defend his title with as much pride as he won it. I wish luck to both the boxers and hope for an entertaining show on 17th December 2016.”