Undefeated Vijender Singh to take on Kerry Hope for WBO title in Delhi
On Saturday, boxer Vijender Singh will face the biggest challenge in his six-year-long professional career when he goes up against Australia’s Kerry Hope for the WBO Asia Pacific Super Middleweight title belt at the Thayagraj Sports Complex in Delhi.
“It’s been a long time since I fought in front of the home crowd. Delhi’s weather is hot and there will be a lot of boxing tomorrow. I am excited,” Vijender was quoted saying after the weigh-in and face-off with Hope on Friday.
“It’s the Asia-Pacific title we are both fighting, so whoever wins will climb to 15th in the world. The real show starts now and it will be one more step towards the world title,” Vijender said. To which, Hope replied, “That’s what we are after. I have been there a few times but never had a chance to compete for the world title.”
“I have been there. I know how it’s like on home ground. When you can’t do what you want to, that is when you fall. Let the crowd cheer, he is not winning,” he added.
The lead-up to the Vijender-Hope bout will see seven other fights, with boxers from Indian Boxing Council and two Thai counterparts. There will also be a women’s exhibition bout which will feature boxers from the Mary Kom Foundation.
The match is by far the biggest pro-boxing match India had hosted, with a number of celebrities are expected to grace the event. Most notably, Sushil Kumar, Yuvraj Singh, Virender Sehwag, Mary Kom and Kapil Dev are scheduled to attend.
With an undefeated streak of six pro-boxing fights, all via knockouts, Vijender has an impressive track record. But, Hope, with an equally impressive record of 23-7, will be the toughest opponent the 30-year-old has faced till now.
A victory over Hope would transcend him to the top 15 of the WBO rankings and give a major boost to his pro-boxing career internationally. A win would also push his sponsors, Queensberry Promotions and IOS Boxing, to book him for tougher challenges going forward and take him closer to his first world title shot.
Vijender is currently the face of pro-boxing in India and the source of inspiration for many who want to take up the sport and wish to take the pro-route.