Olympic hero Vijender Singh set his sights on challenging for boxing’s super middleweight world title on Friday on the eve of his showdown with Australia’s Kerry Hope for Asian supremacy.
Singh, who became the first Indian to ever win a boxing medal by taking home bronze from the 2008 Olympics, is so far unbeaten in his six bouts since turning professional last year.
But he faces his toughest challenge yet on Saturday night in New Delhi when he takes on Hope for the vacant title of WBO Asia-Pacific Super Middleweight champion.
Hailing from the next-door state of Haryana, the 30-year-old can expect raucous support from a packed house at Delhi’s Thagaraj stadium when he takes on the experienced left-hander Hope.
A bullish Singh, who has won all of his bouts as a pro by knock-out, told reporters that he not only expected to be crowned champion of Asia but that Saturday’s fight would pave the way for a tilt at the world title.
“It will open the door for world title bouts... It’s one more step towards the world title,” Singh told reporters after the official weigh-in.
It will be Singh’s first bout in Delhi for six years and marks a return to the same city where he enjoyed medal success in the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
Hope will be no pushover however, having racked up 23 wins from 30 bouts and he has been on the professional circuit for over a decade.
“Been there, done that. The pressure is on this guy. I know what it’s like being in your hometown,” the 34-year-old Hope said about the home favourite.