Indian boxers ready for Fight Nights
The marriage of entertainment and sport took cricket to heights never seen before with the highly-successful Indian Premier League. Now boxing is hoping to cash in on the same formula.
Fight Nights, a unique concept, will see Indian boxers take on their English counterparts for the Lagaan Cup, the title being inspired by the Aamir Khan blockbuster.
Leading India's challenge is Olympic bronze medalist and world No 1 middleweight (75kg) boxer Vijender Singh.
The first competition of the series is in Hyderabad on September 12 and the next in Pune on September 14.
Dinesh Kumar, Dilbagh Singh and Diwakar Prasad are the other boxers representing India, while the tourists boast of a strong line-up in Martin Stead, Liam Cameron and Hosea Burton.
Image: Boxers Dinesh Kumar (left) and Vijender Kumar
'Fight Nights good preparation for CWG'
Col PK Muralidharan Raja, secretary-general of the Indian Boxing Federation, believes the tournament will serve as an ideal preparation for the pugilists ahead of the Delhi Commonwealth Games.
"It will be good preparation for our boxers ahead of the Commonwealth Games. They have undergone thorough preparation in the camp in Patiala. Now this Fight Nights will serve as a good sparring and training session for both the teams," Raja said.
He also added that he is confident of the Indian boxers coming up with their best showing at the Commonwealth Games.
"Our boxers are in better shape than the last Commonwealth Games in Melbourne and I am sure they will win more medals than the previous Games."
Raja pointed out that the Fight Nights will be contested under rules of the International Amateur Boxing Association, with international referees judging the bouts.
Image: Dinesh Kumar and Vijender Singh with young boxers Moin Darvesh (right) and Owais Darvesh
'This can take boxing viewership to the next level'
"It has been formatted as a 90-minute event with four matches each. The bouts will comprise three rounds of three minutes each on both the days. If the scores are level then the decision of the winner will be based on points, which we are still working on," he said.
The veteran administrator also sounded positive on the impact the Lagaan Cup will have on Indian fans.
"This can take Indian spectators to the next level, because it is the fifth-most viewed sport in the world and it is a viewer-friendly sport also. This will be an annual tournament, played on reciprocal basis. In future we hope to invite more countries from around the world. I am confident that with tournaments like these, India can look up to be like Cuba in the near future," he said.
Image: Dinesh Kumar (centre) and Vijender Singh with singer Hard Kaur (left)