Vijender Singh retained his WBO Asia Pacific Super Middleweight title in style, finishing off his opponent Francis Cheka in three rounds. This was Bhiwani lad’s eight wins after turning pro, with no losses in his career so far.
With a host of celebrities, including Olympic bronze medalists Mary Kom and Yogeshwar Dutt, two-time medalist Sushil Kumar, yoga guru Baba Ramdev and football superstar Robin Singh ringside, Vijender looked to extend his unbeaten record to eight bouts. This would also mean that he would retain his WBO Asia Pacific Super Middleweight title, which he had won in July against Kerry Hope. Vijender has clearly made a smooth transition from amateur boxing, winning 6 of his earlier bouts through Technical Knockouts.
Both boxers started off cautiously, waiting for an opening to land their punches. Cheka was weaving around the ring, while Vijender stayed more upright. The first round seemed even, but Vijender clearly dominated the second, waiting and landing heavy punches on the Tanzian. The third round saw a more anxious and hurried Cheka. Vijender Singh was more composed, saw his chance and threw one killer punch – the knockout punch. Cheka took it hard, and the referee immediately declared a Technical Knockout in the Indian’s favour.
An absolutely emphatic victory for the champion, against the toughest opponent he has faced so far; a former World Champion Vijender underlined his status as one to watch out for. Cheka had earlier predicted that he would knockout the Olympic bronze medalist in the first round. A packed Thyagaraj Stadium in Delhi was completely satisfied with Vijender explicitly and repeatedly thanking the fans. The manner of the victory has already raised expectations of him targeting bigger titles.
In the under-card fights that preceded the Main Event on the ‘Night of Champions’, the Indian boxers had a night to remember.
Rajesh Kumar and Mubaraka Sseguya began proceedings, the Indian looking to take his record to 7-0. He did reach his target, winning the bout with a split decision 39-37, 37-38, 39-37.
The second bout saw Deepak Tanwar absolutely pummel Sutriyono Bara Boys, from Indonesia. The boy from Bhiwani won via Technical Knockout, after the referee had to stop the heavily one-sided fight within two minutes. This was Tanwar’s fourth win after turning pro.
Dharmender Grewal took on debutant Abayasi Kyobe from Uganda in the third fight. Grewal also came into the bout unbeaten, and was the clear favorite against Kyobe. The man from Uganda adopted a Floyd Mayweather approach, opting to be defensive and punching only when he had a clear opening. His dancing, smiling moves clearly irked the Indian, who seem weary by the end of the four rounds. His early punches did seem to have pleased the judges though, winning the bout by unanimous decision 40-36, 40-36, 40-36.
The next bout was one of the most exciting of the under-card fights. Kuldeep Dhanda took on Egy Rozten of Indonesia in a fight which quickly seemed to have turned into a wrestling match. The two boxers traded punch for punch never letting the intensity down. Kuldeep was eventually declared winner of the crowd pleasing bout by unanimous decision 40-36, 40-36, 40-36.
Pardeep Kharera took on Australian Scott Edward in the last under-card bout of the night, a six round fight. An edge of the seat thriller, it set the pace for the bigger fight to follow. Kharera matched Edward, fighting with gusto as he floored the Australian five times, the visitor picking himself every time. After six rounds, the Australian was declared the winner 58-56, 59-55, 58-56 leading to some dramatic scenes in the ring. This was India’s only loss of the day.