Vijender Singh: Pro boxing has made Vikas Krishan tougher

Updated: Mar 11, 2020, 07:38 IST | Ashwin Ferro | Mumbai

Professional boxing champ Vijender Singh hails Krishan, who stormed into the 69kg final of the Asian Olympic Qualifiers in Jordan on Tuesday, having recently switched back from the pro circuit to the amateur world.

India’s Vikas Krishan (left) punches Kazakhstan's Ablaikhan Zhussupov in the semi-finals of the Asian Olympics Qualifiers in Jordan yesterday. Pic/IOA
India’s Vikas Krishan (left) punches Kazakhstan's Ablaikhan Zhussupov in the semi-finals of the Asian Olympics Qualifiers in Jordan yesterday. Pic/IOA

With almost everyone talking up the chances of Amit Panghal (52kg) winning an Olympic medal later this year, another boxer has been slowly but surely climbing up the ranks to get to that Olympic podium too.

On Tuesday, Vikas Krishan (69kg) stunned world championships bronze medallist Ablaikhan Zhussupov of Kazhakhstan 3-2 in the semi-finals of the Asian Olympic Qualifiers in Jordan. He will face local lad, Eishaih Hussein in the final today.

Interestingly, Vikas turned professional after winning gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia. He spent a year in the US, where he trained hard and won two bouts for a 2-0 pro record. India's most successful professional boxer Vijender Singh (12-0 professional record) believes that the rigours of the pro world have made Vikas a much better fighter. "In pro boxing, you're on your own, which is quite unlike amateur boxing where you have coaches, assistant coaches, trainers and teammates around you all the time. Vikas was in America all by himself and has worked very hard there. He was in touch with me during that period and we discussed his return to the amateur fold as this is the Olympics year. He has achieved his objective of qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics. Now, I'm sure he will go for gold tomorrow," said Vijender, India's first and only Olympics medal-winning male boxer (bronze at Beijing 2008), who has spent the better part of the last few years in Manchester, England, furthering his pro career.

"Staying away from family and friends in a foreign country is tough. I have felt lonely many a time. And pro bouts are even tougher, with longer duration [six to 12 rounds as compared to three in amateur boxing] and much smaller gloves with lesser padding, which means more pain from body blows. It's also difficult to switch from pro to amateur boxing because amateur boxing is quick as every punch gets you points, while in pro boxing, you can start slowly and then pick up the pace later. But Vikas has coped well," added Vijender, a 2009 world championships bronze medallist.

Vijender SinghVijender Singh

Vikas, 28, who qualified for the Tokyo Games after winning his quarter-final bout in Jordan two days ago, suffered a cut just below his left eyebrow and that injury might make things tough for him in today's final, but Vijender remained defiant. "I suffered a broken thumb in the 2010 Asian Games gold medal match [against Uzbekistan's Abbos Atoev], so I know injuries can be cruel. But I also know that Vikas has a big heart and he is back from pro boxing to the amateur circuit to prove a point. I know how badly he wants that Olympic medal, and I'm sure he realises that this final is a big step in that direction," added the former World No. 1 middleweight (75kg) boxer.

Meanwhile, world championships silver medallist Panghal lost his semi-final bout on Tuesday to Jianguan Hu of China in a split 3-2 decision. But that is only an aberration, felt Vijender.

"The most important thing here is to qualify for Tokyo and Amit has achieved that, so he can take his time now and focus on his preparation for the Olympics. Both Vikas and Amit are very sincere and hardworking boxers. For me, they are India's top contenders for Olympic medals at Tokyo 2020," Vijender signed off.

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