‘I am sure by the time Vijender retires he would have won a World title and defended it several times.’
‘I hope and I would like to deliver him a World title fight within a maximum of 18 months.’
While Vijender Singh’s trainer Lee Beard was all praise for his ward following the superb victory over Kerry Hope, UK-based promoter Francis Warren tells Rediff.com's Harish Kotian he can’t wait to see the Indian boxing sensation get a chance to challenge for the World title.
Vijender Singh’s gamble to give up an amateur career and switch to pro boxing last year seems to be paying off quite handsomely.
At 29, when most amateur boxers contemplate retirement, the Olympic bronze medallist sought a new challenge despite boasting of a stellar career, and it is no surprise that in a year's time he has made his mark in pro boxing and landed his first title in the circuit.
After six successive knock-outs, Vijender successfully overcame a tough challenge from former European champion Kerry Hope to win the WBO Asia Pacific super middleweight title fight in New Delhi on Saturday.
His UK-based promoter Francis Warren believes he has signed up a boxer who is capable of winning World titles in the pro circuit.
“I am sure by the time Vijender retires he would have won a World title and defended it several times,” he declared.
Warren can’t wait to see the Indian boxing sensation get a chance to challenge for the World title. In fact, he has set himself a target of 18 months for the same.
“I hope and I would like to deliver him a World title fight within a maximum of 18 months.”
Warren claimed that despite starting off late, Vijender has adjusted well to pro boxing and should attract a lot of attention from the top boxers in the coming days.
“He has not got the luxury of being 21 or 25; he is 30 years old and sometimes tough fights do catch up with you. Luckily at the moment he has not had too many tough amateur bouts.
"He has had a lot of training but he has not taken a lot of punishment (in his pro bouts). He is a young 30-year-old, and if you saw him tonight (against Kerry Hope) he was still fresh after the end of the 10th round.
"I wasn’t joking when I said I wish there was a 11th and a 12th round today; I think he would have ended up knocking out Kerry in 11 or 12th round.”
Warren also paid tribute to Vijender’s decision to switch to pro boxing despite having achieved a lot of success in the amateur format, which includes winning a bronze medal at the Olympic Games and World Championships, and gold at the 2010 Asian Games.
“Vijender is 30 years old and then to throw what you know behind you and move to a different country and train with a different group of people will take you out of your comfort zone. He stands alone in terms of what he has given up to follow his dreams.
"If he hadn’t turn pro he may woken up when he was 45 or 50 years and wondered ‘what if I had done it’; but now he doesn’t have to. He has just had a fantastic performance in front of his home fans, won a title and now he is in the top 15,” the Briton said.
Warren added that it is important to be selective about choosing Vijender’s next opponent.
“In terms of marquee money fights and prestige fights, there are some guys whom we find tricky at the moment because he hasn’t had the experience of certain people. But there are guys who are elite level fighters, whom we know we can beat.”
Vijender’s trainer Lee Beard was also all praise for his ward following the superb victory over Hope.
“He could have knocked him out. He had a few little niggles and cramps which kind of set him back for a few days but the 10 rounds that he has gone through is a good thing moving forward.
"Obviously, he had only been through five rounds, three rounds and the guy (Kerry Hope) who he faced today was a very experienced fight and a former European champion and he beat him very easily. That means he won every round as it came along,” he said.