A star was born on Wednesday with Vijender packing enough punch in the ring to assure himself of an Olympic medal, the hue of which would be determined by the outcome of his semifinal match on Friday.
The Haryana boxer shunned extravagance and clung on to his hard-earned lead to outsmart Carlos Gongora of Ecuador 9-4 and set up a semifinal clash with formidable Cuban and two-time Pan American champion Emilio Correa Bayeaux.
Having seen the plight of Akhil Kumar and Jitender, who came agonisingly close to win their Olympic medal, Vijender refrained from playing to the gallery and maintained a dour defence which Gongora simply could not breach.
Vijender looked indefatigable and his nimble footwork stood him in good stead as the Indian tired out his opponent and connected most of his blows to run away with the game.
Once he got himself into a 3-0 lead, Vijender decided he was not going to do anything silly and started evading, with a desperate and exasperated Gongora chasing him all over. Vijender often looked cornered but he bobbed and weaved fast enough to avert most of the blows and Gongora's frustration knew no bound.
In round three, Vijender, who has been relying so far on straight punches, unleashed a couple of vicious upper-cuts that had the intended effect and Gongora had no real chance of a comeback once Vijender stretched his lead to 7-2 with just one round to go.
"It's a dream-come-true moment for me. I was shown the door in the first round four years ago at Athens, this was my redemption," a beaming Vijender said.
"After Akhil and Jitender's defeat, there was lot of pressure on me and my coaches. But I came here today fully prepared. Anyway, I'm not stopping here and want to keep going till I land the gold," said the boxer with a model's look.
Vijender said once he had taken a 3-0 lead, he knew that bout was his. "From there onwards, it was just a matter of protecting the lead. It was about defend and watch, defend and watch," he explained.
With just one day in between before he meets Bayeaux in the semifinal, Vijender said, "I have not played him earlier and don't have much idea about him. He is a formidable boxer and I'm going to watch his recording tomorrow, so that I'm not caught unprepared."