PHOTOS: Sparks fly as Vijender Singh and Kerry Hope weigh in for WBO Asia Pacific Championship
The biggest night in Indian professional boxing is here and history will be made when Vijender Singh takes on Kerry Hope tonight at the Thyagraj Sports Complex for the WBO Asia Pacific Championship. Singh, who is the arguably the biggest name in Indian boxing history, will be fighting his first bout in India and has a chance to win his maiden title. Both boxers were at the venue on Friday for the tradition weigh-in and sparks flew between the two as they traded taunts to get one another riled up.
Officials from Indian Boxing Council (IBC) and WBO (World Boxing Organisation) were present at the event hosted by popular sports commentator Charu Sharma. The fight between Hope and Singh is going to be the main event on a night that will see nine others and all fighters were present for their respective weigh-ins and face-offs. On a gloomy day with overcast conditions, the only brightness seemed to be coming from the shutterbugs, which were tasting professional boxing face-offs in India for the first time.
The event started off with Charu Sharma talking about how this is going to be a fortune changing night for Indian boxing. “Tomorrow is going to be historic and it will give Indian people a taste of professional boxing. It is not only going to be a great night for India but for professional boxing in our part of the world. Professional boxing is a great sport and sooner or later, it will become popular in India as well,” he said quite emphatically.
This event, organised by IOS Boxing Promotions, will give a chance to several Indian boxers to fight on a big stage and gain recognition on the national level. India has a huge pool of talent as far as boxing is concerned but the transition from amateur to professional is something difficult to achieve and requires a lot of factors to go right, apart from training and the fighter’s abilities himself.
The event on Saturday night will see the participation of a a couple of Thai fighters as well and they were also present for the weigh-in. While Vachayan Khamon will take on Kuldeep Dhanda in a Light Weight Indo Thai contest, Natdanai Pengthong will be up against Sunil Siwach in the Bantamweight category.
Kerry Hope, the Welsh-born Australian fighter, came on for the weigh-in looking quite calm and composed. Though Kerry’s tone is soft, he does not leave any chance to shoot from the mouth and did the same on Friday as well, taking potshots at Vijender.
The real roar came when Vijender arrived for his weigh in and there was a lot of buzz surrounding the place. He came on to the title song from the Akshay Kumar film Singh is Kinng and was cheered on by everyone present. Kerry weighed in at 74.9 kg while Vijender was a tad bit heavier than him at 75.7 kg.
Sparks started to fly after Vijender Singh weighed and both fighters came close for the traditional face-off. While Kerry Hope had a stern look on his face, Vijender was looking like he could start a fight right there but the lack of gloves was stopping him.
After the face-off, both boxers returned for a question and answer session with the media. Kerry, speaking about the bout, said, “I am not here to just make up the numbers and I am going to make life difficult for this fella. There is no pressure on me and all of it is on him. As far as the crowds are concerned, I have seen a lot, been there, done that. Also, he does not look like he has been training a lot. So I will show him tomorrow.”
Vijender was not ready to take everything lying down and retorted. “I am going to show him a bit of Delhi tomorrow after the fight. He will see for himself,” the Indian boxer said. Both were quite cheeky and it nicely sets up the fight tonight, which will be telecasted live on national television.