Professional boxing has its winners and losers. On a given day, the fiercest of fighters can show signs of frailty. But Vijender Singh has so far looked good. In each of his first six bouts, the Indian showed courage to overpower his opponents.
On Saturday, in the first 10-round bout of his career, there was no knockout as the large home crowd would have hoped. But Vijender still extended his blemish-less record to 7-0 with a unanimous decision against Australian Kerry Hope at the Thyagraj sports complex.
This was his first fight for a belt of any sort. And Vijender annexed the WBO Asia-Pacific Super middleweight belt. Hope, a southpaw with an ungainly stance, took the home boxer the distance.
Vijender won the bout by unanimous decision, with the judges scoring it 98-92, 98-92 and 100-92.
The victory will help Vijender move up the world rankings and he can now eye a bigger share in the cut throat business of pro boxing. However, the TV viewers and people who had gathered here to witness the fight could have returned disappointed.
Hope, in a silver coloured half-sleeve jacket and white and green shorts, entered the ring first. The Indian wore a white, hooded robe as he arrived. Initially, it was shadow boxing and circling around the ring. Vijender could land only one odd straight right on Hope’s face. The Aussie generally kept a distance, trying to throw punches from afar that rarely connected.
Vijender test his southpaw opponent, who is considered to have more stamina and is preparing to run a marathon under three hours shortly.
In the second round, Vijender lost his balance and tumbled on the canvas, but was up fast, but he was cautious in the remaining rounds.
Despite getting some hard punches on the face, the Australian was continuously at Vijender, often dropping his guard to lure his opponent.
After a fair bit of clinching in the third round, the fourth turned out to be a bit comical as both tumbled to the canvas. It was expected that Vijender won’t let the fight last beyond the fifth round. But Hope showed no signs of giving up.
However, his efforts to break the defence of Vijender, who had a better reach, wasn’t successful.
The Indian landed some hard punches towards the end, but Hope withstood them. However, by the time the bout ended, it was clear who the winner was.
It was a perfect end to India’s first major fight night.