The 24-year-old prevailed via unanimous decision in the gruelling 12-round contest against his 26-year-old rival, who came in with an experience of fighting 9 bouts.
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“My opponent was a hard-puncher, his reach was also longer but I kept my patience and eventually managed to tire him out,” Neeraj said after becoming the first Indian boxer to defend a pro title.
Neeraj had won the belt last year by defeating Filipino Nelson Gulpe, also in a 12-round battle. He came into last night’s contest with 7 wins in 11 fights and is now expected to break into the WBC world rankings, which will be a step towards getting him a shot at the world title.
“I will now aim for the world title, that would be my next target but there is some time before that materialises. For the time being I might head to the US,” he said.
World Boxing Council’s (WBC) Asia Secretary General Patrick Cusick said the Indian will be entering the world rankings which would be updated in three weeks’ time.
“He has six months’ time to defend his title but that can be relaxed if he has a busy schedule. For now, he will be entering the WBC world rankings which would be out in three weeks,” Cusick said.
The Australian said he was satisfied with the smooth conduct of the fight night by Professional Boxing Organisation of India (PBOI).
“I am going back a very satisfied man. All the fights were very good and the entire evening was put together quite well by PBOI. They do seem to have a good idea about how it is done. I was very impressed with the fighters who competed in the undercard, they showed a lot of courage,” Cusick said.
In the undercard bouts, which were four-round contests, former Commonwealth Games bronze-medallist Amandeep Singh defeated former Federation Cup champion Sunil Sharma in the super featherweight division (59kg) to make a winning debut in the professional circuit.
In the cruiserweight (91kg) category, multiple-time national champion Kuldeep Singh was upstaged by Geetanand Singh, while in the super welterweight (70kg) category Deepak Tanwar got the better of Dilbag Thakran.