It was an anticlimax -- for Vijender Singh’s fans and more so for the Indian boxing star’s opponent of the night, Francis Cheka of Tanzania.
For the fans, the rather short bout – Vijender won in three rounds at the Thyagaraj Stadium in New Delhi on Saturday – would have left their experience incomplete. Cheka, on the other hand, would be thinking -- and he probably is right-- that the referee was unjust to him by stopping the bout prematurely.
Vijender retained his WBO Asia Pacific Super-middleweight crown by a TKO victory over Cheka. The referee stopped the bout in the third round, after the Tanzanian dropped his gum-guard, after getting shaken by a Vijender punch. (HIGHLIGHTS)
Though Cheka did stutter with the knock, such impacts are par for the ring in pro boxing and the referee could have allowed the bout to continue. Besides, Cheka seemed ready to continue a few seconds following the incident.
After all, a fighter who has had 43 bouts in his pro career, would know how to take a knock and then recover to go the distance, if required.
The bout began in a promising fashion with both the fighters sizing each other up in the first round. Vijender used his jab and better reach to keep Cheka at bay while the Tanzanian was using his footwork and body movements to try and get inside of the Indian’s defense. The opening round was won by Vijender, but narrowly.
The second round went the Indian’s way too but Cheka did assert his quality a couple of times, with good meaty blows that made Vijender lift up his guard.
Then, in the third round, came the knock that clinched it for the Indian, though the punch was not exactly a knockout blow, and the Tanzanian was not exactly sprawled on the canvas. Anticlimax indeed, but Vijender and the fans were happy. A celebratory frenzy followed.
“I used my brain to outclass him,” said Vijender just after the bout. “After the second round, I realised he wouldn’t last the full ten rounds. I stuck to my game plan of taking each round at a time and was successful in keeping the belt.”