After the bronze medal triumph at the Beijing Olympics, Vijender Singh faced flak for concentrating on extraneous activities rather than boxing.
On Tuesday, he silenced his detractors by defeating world champion Atoev Abbos of Uzbekistan (10-7) in the quarterfinal of the middleweight (75kg) category in the ongoing Asian Championship at Zhuhai, China.
“After coming from Beijing I did spend some time partying and appearing on television shows, but I had never ignored boxing. For the last couple of months, I was into regular training at the National Institute of Sports in Patiala, and today’s performance is a result of the hard work,” Vijender told HT from Zhuhai.
Last month, the Haryana boxer had won bronze at the European Grand Prix in the Czech Republic.
Elaborating on Tuesday’s bout, Vijender said: “I started on a defensive note but gradually gained momentum. After levelling the score at 3-3 in the first round, I went all out and went up 7-5 in the second and eventually wrapped up the tie 10-7.” Did he feel the pressure of facing a world champion? “There was no pressure. The only thing going through my mind was how to get the better of him. Moreover, the world is now wary of Indian boxers,” he said.
Chief national coach, GS Sandhu, said: “He fought as per expectations and this win will definitely help him in the forthcoming World Championships in Italy.”
In other bouts of the day, youth world champion Nanao Singh (48kg) advanced by defeating Lu Chia-Lun of the Chinese Taipei 8-4 in the quarterfinals and Chhotelal Yadav (57kg) beat Kazakhstan’s Ospanov Maxat 15-1.