• Vijender Singh

    Mumbai, June 27 (IANS) Indian boxing star Vijender Singh will meet WBO Oriental Super Middleweight Champion Zulpikar Maimaitali in a double title fight at the NSCI Dome here on August 5.

    Titled ‘Battleground Asia’, the fight will see both boxers put their respective WBO titles at stake and the winner will take home his defended title along with his opponent’s title.

    Beijing Olympics quarter-finalists Akhil Kumar and Jitender Kumar will also make their professional debuts on the same day, the promoters of the event announced here on Tuesday.

    It will be after a gap of nine years that the Haryana trio will be seen in the ring together. The last time they appeared together at the same event was the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

    Akhil Kumar will make his debut with a four-round contest, in an undercard fight. This will be Akhil’s first professional bout since the time he has been granted permission to turn to pro-boxing.

    Another boxer to feature in ‘Battleground Asia’ is WBC Asia Welterweight champion Neeraj Goyat. The 26-year-old boxer from Haryana made his professional debut in 2011 against Gou Wen Dong in China.

    He has fought 12 bouts with an experience of 71 rounds under his belt and has claimed eight wins, with two knockouts.

    The Indian is currently placed 35th in the WBC rankings which were updated after his victory over Australian Ben Kite, who he defeated to retain his title. In 2016, he had taken a bronze medal at the AIBA Pro Boxing Olympic qualifiers.

    Vijender, who is reigning WBO Asia Pacific Super Middleweight Champion, has remained unbeaten since his debut in professional boxing. He has fought eight professional bouts, the last one against former World No.1 Francis Cheka of Tanzania, when he defended his title. Seven of those wins have come by way of knockouts.

    Vijender clinched his first professional title — the WBO Asia Pacific Super Middleweight belt — in July last year by defeating Kerry Hope of Australia,

    He has 30 rounds under his belt, which gives him a slight edge over his next opponent, who has fought 24 rounds till now.

    Zulpikar has also won all eight fights of his fledgling professional career. He has five knock outs wins, and has fought 24 rounds.

    His last bout was with Thomas Mashali of Tanzania last year when he won his current title WBO Oriental Super Middleweight title. Zulpikar turned professional in April, 2015.

    Vijender and Zulpikar were scheduled to fight on April 1 this year but the Chinese boxer backed out of the contest in the last week of February.

    Vijender, who has been training in the UK with his trainer Lee Beard, was confident of beating his next opponent.

    “This one is going to be an exciting fight night, not only is my title at stake but I will also be fighting for another title. I am very passionate about boxing and I have an aim of winning a certain number of titles, which I will complete at any cost,” he said.

    “I have been training hard with Lee for almost three months and with every passing day, my confidence has increased. There has been constant betterment in my strength and training.”

    Speaking on the warning given by the Chinese boxer, Vijender said: “I am not scared by all these things, these words are only mind games, you have seen people like him have challenged me earlier also, and the result is in front of you. My title is not going anywhere, in fact, on the 5th August I will be wearing two belts.”

    Beard, who was also present, said: “Vijender has been working hard for 3 months now, his stamina has improved much more. Zulpikar is a southpaw and will be a tough nut to crack but I am confident with the kind of hard work Vijender is putting in, he will know how to tackle Zulpikar in the ring. We are looking forward to this fight.”

    Akhil, whose last major competitive bout was at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, was excited about his professional debut.

    “I am very thrilled to begin this new phase of my boxing career, now I am all set to put in the same amount of energy and hard work into professional boxing as I did in amateur boxing,” he said.

    “Pro boxing is different in many ways, more stamina and strength is needed to go through rounds of 8-10. I have been training for last 6 months and feel confident of entering the ring as a pro-boxer.”

    The other boxers that will feature in ‘Battleground Asia’ are Pardeep Kharera, Kuldeep Dhanda, and Dharmender Grewal.

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    The IANS was founded by Indian American publisher Gopal Raju as the India Abroad News Service. It was later renamed the Indo-Asian News Service.

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