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Karthik Ravindranath
Karthik Ravindranath

Boxing

Why Vijender simply had to win

BOX-IND-VIJENDER-HOPE Vijender Singh (L) fights with Kerry Hope in New Delhi on Saturday | AFP
  • What many people forget is that Vijender is being promoted by Francis Warren, one of the best in the business. Warren's Queensberry Promotions has reigning world champions in three weight categories.

Vijender Singh beat Kerry Hope to win the WBO Asia Pacific super middleweight boxing championship. It is being hailed as a landmark achievement, as it should be. But, there was never any 'Hope' for his Australian opponent. The six-footer from Haryana scored 98-92, 98-92, 100-90 to be the unanimous winner.

The build up to the fight had been fascinating. Especially for Indian boxing fans, who had not seen much of the professional circuit.

The traditional weigh-in ceremony could not have gone any better for the organisers. The face-off and trash-talk piqued the interest of the viewers. The fight itself was called “Vijender’s confidence vs Hope’s experience”.

The promoters also tried their best to portray the match as a close contest and generated much hype by scripting Hope as the villain standing in the way of the local favourite’s progress. And it is true that Hope was no pushover. He had a 23-7 record before this fight. Vijender, however, was always the hands down favourite to win.

Why? If we go by the tale of the tape, Vijender is bigger than his opponent and taller. He has a longer reach. Moreover, Hope has not been fighting as frequently as Vijender in recent years.

Six-pack jabs: Vijender's transformation from an ameteur to a professional

And most importantly, this fight was decisive to the future of professional boxing in India. A victory for Vijender would give the WBO a new market with a population of 1.3 billion. The Indian boxer would become 15th in the world and will have opportunities to challenge for bigger titles. Which means, bigger fights and more money. By saying that, this writer is not implying that the fight was fixed. To the contrary, it was as authentic as boxing matches go.

But, what many people forget is that Vijender is being promoted by Francis Warren, one of the best in the business. Warren's Queensberry Promotions has reigning world champions in three weight categories—Billy Joe Saunders (middleweight), Liam Smith (light middleweight), and Terry Flanagan (lightweight).

Warren knew what was at stake and he simply had too much to lose. It is said that match making is the most important part of boxing promotion. To choose the right opponent at the right time, so that your boxer's victory does not look too easy.

Interview | Nobody comes to watch a nice person: Vijender

It’s not unfair, just smart. And with Singh vs Hope, Francis Warren pulled off a masterclass. Indian professional boxing took a giant leap today. And the occasion demanded a victory for Vijender. Hope simply did not have a chance.

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