'I have not fought in a 10-round fight before, but my training will help me give my best till the end.'
'If I get the opportunity to knock him out early I will go for it.'
Indian boxing ace Vijender Singh talks to Rediff.com's Harish Kotian ahead of his bout against Australian boxer Kerry Hope for the vacant WBO Asia Pacific Super middleweight title in New Delhi, on Saturday.
He has won medals at the Olympics and World Championships. Now, Vijender Singh has an opportunity to write another golden chapter to his career.
Vijender, who switched to pro boxing last year and won his first six fights in a canter, faces his first real test in the professional format.
As he glanced around the Thyagaraj stadium, in New Delhi, which was being spruced for Saturday's big fight night, the Beijing Olympics bronze medallist could not hide his excitement.
"I am feeling good. You see the arena down there? Tomorrow will be a big day for me, fighting in that big arena in front of a full house. I am looking forward to get going and give my 100 percent in the ring. I am all set for the big fight," he told Rediff.com after the official weigh-in and face-off ceremony on Friday.
There will be nine other bouts on Saturday ahead of the Vijender-Hope big fight. One of them will be a bout between Boichong and Nengneihat, two young women boxers from the MC Mary Kom Boxing foundation.
While Vijender scored six wins in his first six pro bouts, which all lasted four rounds, this time he faces a stiff test in Hope, who has a 23-7 record and is a former European champion.
Hope will look to draw on his experience of having fought 10 rounds and stretch Vijender, who will feature in a 10-round contest for the first time in his career.
While Vijender is keen to knock Hope out at the earliest, he says, "I am prepared to fight 10 rounds. I have put in a lot of hard work during my training sessions in Manchester and have especially trained with a lot of southpaw boxers."
"I am ready to fight for 10 rounds, but if I get the opportunity to knock him out early I will go for it," he says.
Vijender has been training for 10 and 12 rounds for the last six months with his trainer, Lee Beard.
"My training will help me cope with the rigours of a 10-round fight. I have not fought in a 10-round fight before," he says, "but my training will help me give my best till the end."
"My training made my fights end earlier," he adds. "My trainers and coaches always tell me that the more I sweat in training, the less I will bleed in the ring. They told me to train hard in the gym and I will do all right in the fight and I follow that advice."
Vijender is certainly not overawed by the contest.
"I have competed in the Olympics, the Asian Games and the World Championships and all those fights were important for me at that stage. This has been a journey for me and I am just being a part of it and making the most of it."
Having weighed 75.7 kg against Hope's 74.9 kg, Vijender revealed that controlling his weight proved quite a task.
"It has been tiring in the last few days with travelling, training, weight control and everything else."
While the bout has generated a lot of interest around the country, Vijender says he is frustrated by the number of calls he has been receiving for free passes for the contest.
"This is not right because everybody is asking me for free passes. People are ready to pay to watch cricket matches or buy movie tickets at high prices, but when it comes to boxing they all want free passes," he says.
"They tell me they would love to come and cheer for me, but at the same time they ask me for free passes. If you want to support me, then buy a pass and come and cheer for me in the stadium," he says.
Celebrities, including cricketers, politicians and Bollywood stars, are expected to witness Vijender battle it out in his first pro bout in India and clinch another major title for the country.