India's poster boy of boxing Vijender Singh has his hands or rather fists full! Under pressure to qualify for the all-important London Olympics next year, with just one qualifying tournament in March to go, the former World No 1 Middleweight boxer is looking forward to the second edition of Fight Night, in Pune on Sunday for some valuable match practice. "I've been training hard at the national camp in Patiala but it's always better to get some match-practice before the Olympic qualifiers," Vijender told MiD DAY yesterday.
India boxer Vijender Singh
Defending his decision of not participating in the franchise-based World Series Boxing but taking to the bilateral boxing series Fight Night, the Guangzhou Asiad gold medallist said: "Fight Night is very similar to the way we fight in amateur boxing, with head gear and the three-round format. However, the WSB is a shorter version of professional boxing, where there's no head gear and there are five rounds. So comparatively, Fight Night is a lot safer."
Vijender however, didn't have an easy outing in the inaugural edition of Fight Night -- Lagaan Cup against England in Pune last year. The Bhiwani boxer was rocked by a couple of hard punches from a taller and more muscular Frank Buglioni in the second round, so much so that he even took a couple of shaky steps towards his corner and was left with a bleeding nose.
Vijender eventually prevailed 13-4 but even national coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu, who was by his side, admitted to being "nervous for Viju," then. The Beijing Olympics bronze medal winner however defended himself. "I was a bit unfit then. This time I'm much more fitter. Besides, there was hardly about a month between the Lagaan Cup and the Guangzhou Asian Games, so that was a bit risky. This time though there's ample time before the Asian Olympic Qualifiers in March in Astana," he said.
The Percept-promoted and Indian Boxing Federation-supported Fight Night will see Vijender & Co take on a five-member team from Australia at the Balewadi Sports Complex in Pune. Vijender is unsure of his Aussie opponent, but confident nevertheless. "My aim is the London Games and looks like it's going to be via Pune and then Astana," he signed off.