Vijender Singh’s warning: Why doesn’t Amir Khan fight me? I am ready for it
Vijender Singh says he is ready to fight Pakistan -origin pro boxer Amir Khan anytime. Last week, Amir said that Vijender, who has won all his pro boxing bouts till now, should fight tougher opponents.other sports Updated: Jul 14, 2017 09:05 IST
Since clinching that bronze in 2008 at the Beijing Olympics, Vijender Singh has come a long way. After becoming the first Indian boxer to bag a medal in the Olympics, Singh has now turned pro and currently holds the WBO Asia Pacific Super Middleweight belt and will take on China’s Zulpikar Maimaitiali in the next fight on August 5, where the two will fight as challengers and champions with both the title at stake. In a candid chat from UK with Hindustan Times, the star boxer speaks on his journey, intentions to fight boxers like Amir Khan, and also gives away a hint of a Bollywood return.
How does it feel to be the face of Indian boxing?
It’s kind of a responsibility actually. People know me and I have to give my 100 per cent every time and win the fight every time. They know me through boxing; they know Vijender Singh. If I don’t perform well then there will be a problem. Hence I feel it’s got to be a lot about being responsible.
That will be put to test again in your next bout against Zulpikar Maimaitiali. How differently does one prepare while facing a southpaw?
It’s going good. We’re just busy with the technique training and gym work and weight training. Even today we had a bit of technique training. It makes no difference if your opposition is a southpaw apart from the techniques. I’ve fought with many southpaws in my career. There’s a bit of footwork involved and a southpaw usually fights with the right hand only and if you can block him there his game is over. The focus is mostly towards the right.
With two titles on the line, you both are challengers and champions. How big do you consider this fight to be given you both are unbeaten… Do the streaks matter?
As you rightly said, there will be a lot at stake because of the two titles. I don’t see things like if this is my biggest fight or that but yeah, because of the two titles, I really need to win this match. I don’t think about that kind of things. Winning is everything for me and to choose the right fight at the right time. I have eight fights and I need to be careful.In my amateur career I’ve won so many and lost so many but that doesn’t matter.
Recently, Amir Khan said that you should be fighting tougher opponents and that the last thing he wants is you to get branded as a fraud because of that…
I’m ready to fight him anytime anywhere. And it’s not like that. It’s boxing after all at the end of the day. If I can beat him, then what next? I think it’s about the experience right? If he wants to talk about me why doesn’t he fight me then? That (being branded as a fraud) can be his opinion but I just want to tell him that I’m ready to fight him anytime anywhere.
It’s not just with Khan though, there’s Pradeep Singh Sihag too, who has been challenging you stating that your techniques are not right and so on… Does these allegations affect you?
See I just started. There are so many boys (in the circuit) and people don’t know them and they’re trying to get media attention in this manner. I think first you should prove yourself, get an Olympics medal, an Asian Games medal, a Commonwealth medal and then you talk about me. This is more like free ka publicity and anyone can say anything. I don’t care much about these. It’s out daily cup of tea. It doesn’t affect me. When one grows, there will be a number of people who’ll try to pull him down but you need to have more focus and work hard.
Besides being the face of Indian boxing, you’ve also led the way for boxers to turn pro…
It’s good man. When I turned pro, I approached a couple of my fellow boxers that why don’t you come join me, but they can’t take those risks. They were like: “We’ll lose our jobs, we can’t do this, we can’t take such risks” etc. etc. But you should take the risk. It’s very good to find Akhil Kumar turning pro.
You, Akhil and Jitender would be back in a same event since the Beijing Olympics. Did you guys have a word among yourselves?
I simple told them that this is a new game and a new beginning. You leave behind your amateur career and start afresh. It’s not a team sport where I can help you or give you some tips. It’s all about hard-work and how much you put yourself in the ring. Amateur’s over and you’re starting from zero.
If you were to pick out one significant thing that has changed in your life since 2009 what would that be?
When I bagged the Olympics medal, I was 23-and-a-half-years-old. Then you’re full of energy. The name, fame and everything’s there. What more do you want? But now I’ve a family, I have a kid; I’ve settled down and become more responsible I feel. I’ve become more straight-forward with my decisions as well.
Any intentions to go back to Bollywood? Is there a straight-forward decision regarding that as well?
Brother, I already have a number of offers! I’ve been got offers from Hollywood reality shows but I’m busy with my boxing and as my wife says, once my boxing career is over, then you can think of something in Bollywood. But I still have a lot of boxing left in me and I feel I’m a good boxer. There are many more boys who are more talented and good-looking but people consider me only as a boxer and want to see me in the ring only.