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Vijender Singh downs China’s Zulpikar Maimaitiali for 2nd WBO boxing title

Vijender Singh defeated China’s Zulpikar Maimaitiali to clinch his second WBO boxing title in Mumbai on Saturday.

other sports Updated: Aug 05, 2017 23:46 IST
Bihan Sengupta
Bihan Sengupta
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Vijender Singh,Zulpikar Maimaitiali,WBO
Indian boxing and WBO Asia-Pacific Super Middleweight champion Vijender Singh celebrates after winning the double title against WBO Oriental Super Middleweight champion of China Zulpikar Maimaitiali in Mumbai on Saturday.(AP)

Vijender Singh extended his unbeaten run in his professional career to nine bouts on Saturday after the Harayana boxer defeated China’s Zulpikar Maimaitiali on points to retain his WBO Asia Pacific super middleweight title and claim his opponent’s WBO Oriental Super Middleweight belt at the National Sports Club of India here on Saturday.

For the jam-packed crowd, there couldn’t have been a better show. Their favourite was down on the floor at least five times, his nose was bleeding and he had endured a couple of low blows. Yet, he had enough in him to topple an aggressive boxer like Maimaitiali.

The Chinese southpaw was on the offensive right from the bell and landed his punches, proving his pre-match warning to Vijender was not mere build-up hype.

READ | Vijender Singh urges for Indo-China peace after win over Zulpikar Maimaitiali

It was champion stuff from the 23-year-old and Vijender, 31, looked drained at the end of the seventh round in the 10-round contest. Vijender’s jabs earned him points but Maimaitiali seemed well aware of every trick the Olympian had in his bag. He dodged quite a few hooks, defended the jabs well and unleashed thundering punches at will.

Vijender too admitted at the end of the fight that he wasn’t prepared to go beyond six-seven rounds. “I didn’t expect this fight,” he said. “I thought this would last for a max 5-6 rounds, hence I didn’t fight according to my strategy.”

READ | Vijender vs Zulpikar, WBO title bout, boxing highlights: Vijender wins cliffhanger vs Zulpikar

But Vijender’s trainer Lee Beard had stated on Friday that the Beijing Olympics bronze medallist had the experience to carve out a victory even when it seemed he was far from it. After assessing Maimaitiali’s initial rounds where the southpaw hardly showed restraint, Vijender went all out at every given opportunity. The combination punches landed well, bringing the crowd on to their feet.

From traditional cuss words to patriotic songs and sloganeering, the crowd hurled everything at Vijender’s every successful jab. Maimaitiali will, however, rue the few unintentional low blows. After all, with a scoreline of 96-96, 95-94 and 95-94 from the three judges, the docked points were bound to leave an impact.

READ | Akhil Kumar, Neeraj Goyat win in style as Indians dominate undercard bouts

Goyat defends title

In the other title fight of the night, Neeraj Goyat successfully defended his WBC Asia welterweight title after his fight with Philippines’ Allan Tanada went down to the wire. The audience was treated to a classic encounter, unlike the previous six under cards that either lacked action or proved one-way traffic.

Both the pugilists had a defensive approach in the initial rounds with a few punches thrown but once the bout went into the latter rounds, Goyat took control and was ruthless with his jabs. What also helped the 26-year-old’s cause was his quick feet, allowing him to dodge Tanada’s upper cuts comfortably. Before the clash, Goyat had 12 bouts under his belt, half of Tanada’s number but that made no difference as Goyat accumulated points steadily for the unanimous points decision. The judges awarded the bout to him 119-109, 119-109, 119-110.

First Published: Aug 05, 2017 23:36 IST