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Nothing comes easy in boxing: Vijender Singh

November 28, 2016 20:42 IST

Vijender Singh defends his WBO Asia Pacific Super Middleweight title against Francis Cheka in New Delhi on December 17.

Vijender Singh

IMAGE: Vijender Singh during a training session in Manchester.

Vijender Singh gears up for another historic moment in his already impressive Pro career.

After switching to Pro boxing last year, Vijender, 31, made a dream start as he won his first seven fights.

His last victory over Australian Kerry Hope saw him win the WBO Asia Pacific Super Middleweight title in July.

Vijender now faces the biggest test of his Pro career as he prepares to defend his title against Francis Cheka, the current World Boxing Federation middleweight champion.

The Tanzanian boasts of nearly 17 years as a professional with 32 wins including 17 knockouts in 43 fights.

Lack of good training facilities in India means the 2008 Olympic Games bronze medallist has again flown to Manchester to train for the big fight under his trainer Lee Beard's watchful eye.'s Harish Kotian spoke to Vijender in Manchester.

What's more difficult? Winning a title or defending it?
I can only say that I can try my best.

I think both are difficult, whether it is winning a title or defending a title.

Nothing comes easy in boxing.

You have to stay focussed and train hard every day and I don't think anything can bother you, whether it is expectations or pressure.

I am working hard in Manchester every day. My only aim is to do well and win titles for my country.

Don't you feel any pressure to maintain your winning run?

I don't feel any pressure that I have to win all the time.

At the end of the day it is boxing, it is a sport.

Sometimes you will win, sometimes you will lose.

I would say I have nothing to lose. I am just focussing and preparing myself to the best of my abilities.

Playing for my country motivates me, it makes me work hard in training and give my best in the ring every time I fight.

This time you have a very tough opponent in Francis Cheka.

Remember, I have also achieved a lot of success in boxing.

I have an Olympic medal, won a medal at the Commonwealth Games, at the Asian Games and at the World Championships.

So I have also a lot of experience of boxing at the top level, maybe at the amateur level and not in Pro boxing, but I am feeling confident.

At the end of the day, it all boils down to how you fight in the ring on the day, and not about how much experience you have.

Vijender Singh

IMAGE: Vijender, left, in action against Kerry Hope.

Cheka has fired the first shot: 'I am ready to give this kid a lesson in boxing.'
He says he will knock you out in the first round.
What do you have to say to him?

I want to say: 'Thank you Uncle' because he is elder to me.

Let's fight in the ring and show who is better instead of just talking.

Did you have a look at his fights?
Any special preparations you are making to face him?

I have seen his fights on Youtube, I would say he is okay, but not that good.

What areas have you been working to improve ahead of our fight?

I would say I am working to improve on everything.

It is a combat sport, you have to work on conditioning, your strength, your technique, so everything is important.

You won your first seven fights.
Was it something you expected when you signed up for Pro boxing?

There was nothing in my mind that I have to win so many fights and all that.

I am just doing whatever I can from my mind and that is to box and I will keep doing it.

When did you resume training after your last bout in July?

I am in training for the last one month-and-a-half. I do fitness training every day, but the proper boxing training, it has been going for the last month-a-and-half.

How tough was the bout against Kerry Hope?
What are the things you learnt from that tough fight?

It was my first big fight at the Pro level, a 10-round fight.

It was the longest fight of my career and I learnt a lot like how to manage myself in a long fight, how to take it round by round.

You also pick a lot of things from that experience.

Kerry Hope was a tough guy and I take a lot of confidence from winning against someone like him.

Vijender Singh

IMAGE: Vijender Singh.

The Thyagaraj Sports Complex stadium was cheering for you. Did it spur you?

Amazing, it was massive.

It was our first fight in India and we were very happy with the response and that is why we are doing another fight here next month.

Maybe we will plan our next fights maybe in another city like Mumbai, and take Pro boxing around the country.

More Indian boxers -- your former India team mates Akhil Kumar and Jitender Kumar -- are coming forward to sign up for Pro boxing?
Are you happy that Indian boxers, who are not making it to the amateur level, get a chance to try their hand at pro boxing?

It is good that a lot of Indian boxers are coming forward to join Pro boxing.

I am very happy because that is all what I wanted when I signed up for Pro boxing.

When I signed up there were only one or two boxers in Pro, but now everybody wants to sign up for it.

Finally, it is happening and I think it is all because of me.

A lot of people ask why Vijender needs to train in the UK when his fights are taking place in New Delhi...

It is because we don't have any good infrastructure and we don't have any quality sparring.

Even I want to know where should I train in India. If anyone can suggest, please let me know.

The only good place to train in India is Patiala, but even that place is that far from Delhi and you need to get a lot of permissions just to get clearance for the training.

India is such a big country and yet we have only one good centre for training.

We need good infrastructures in places like Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, all around the country.

We need at least 3 or 4 good training centres around the country so boxers don't have to travel a long way.

If you see in the Rio Olympics, the UK was the second best country after the USA in boxing in terms of medals won and that is due to the good infrastructure they have.

Harish Kotian /