When India’s poster boy of boxing, Vijender Singh, came for the weigh-in, his rippling muscles gave an indication of the hard work he has put in to guard his WBO Asia-Pacific Super Middleweight belt against Francis Cheka of Tanzania on Saturday.
It will be Vijender’s eighth pro bout on the circuit and his second on home soil. In July, the Indian had outclassed Australia’s Kerry Hope to win the belt.
It has been a smooth ride for Vijender on the pro circuit so far --- he has fought seven bouts and remained unbeaten. On the eve of the title defence, he exuded confidence of winning Saturday’s showdown against his African rival, a former world champion.
On the scale, Vijender tipped 76kg, slightly more than his rival who weighed 74.7kgs. It was one last time both boxers came face to face before stepping into the ring.
Cheka, 34, was very guarded about his preparation for Saturday’s fight, his first on the Asian circuit. “Will show tomorrow on the ring,” was all he communicated through his manager. On paper, Cheka is supposed to be a seasoned player with 43 fights under his belt, winning 32; 17 of those by knockout.
Records, however, don’t make Vijender lose his focus. He has fought seven times on the pro circuit and won all of them. The Beijing Olympic Games bronze-medallist said, “It would be naïve to think of pressure of facing a more experienced opponent this time. (I) Have vast experience on the amateur circuit. It would be all about focusing in the 10-round contest,” he said.
Besides the main event, the programme also features five greenhorns for undercard bouts on the pro circuit.