The last time Vijender Singh fought in front of his home crowd was during the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games. He had won a bronze then in the middleweight category. Six years later, the Bhiwani boxer who has turned professional, is all set to fight the biggest bout of his pro career, when he takes on Australia’s Kerry Hope for the WBO Asia Pacific super middleweight belt at the Thyagaraj stadium on Saturday.”It’s been a long time since I fought in front of the home crowd. Delhi’s weather is hot and there will be a lot of boxing tomorrow. I am excited,” Vijender said after the weigh-in and face-off with Hope on Friday.This is by far the biggest pro boxing event the country has hosted and a host of Bollywood and sports celebrities are expected to add colour to the evening. The likes of Kapil Dev, Yuvraj Singh, Virender Sehwag besides Mary Kom and Sushil Kumar are likely to be present. Vijender, who remains undefeated after six pro fights, having won all of them by knockouts, will face his most experienced opponent so far in Hope, who holds an impressive 23-7 record.A win in Saturday’s title fight, which will be a10-round affair, will ensure Vijender entry into the top-15 of the WBO world ranking and get his closer to the world title fight.”A lot will depend on the fight. A win will ensure direct entry in top 15 and that’s when the show begins,” Vijender said. To this, Hope, who appeared to be more confident than Vijender, was quick to reply: “That’s what we are after (the rankings). I have been there a few times but never had a chance to compete for the world title.”Kerry, who has a total of four knockouts to his name, was sure that he will be able to stop the Indian’s winning run. “I have been there. I know how it’s like on home ground. When you can’t do what you want to, that is when you fall. Let the crowd cheer, he is not winning,” he said. Also on Saturday’s fight card is IBC super welterweight championship title bout between Maharashtra’s Siddharth Verma and Haryana’s Dilbag Thakran over eight rounds.There will be six other fights, with boxers from the Indian Boxing Council’s stable and two Thai invites, in the lead-up to the Vijender-Hope bout. There will be a women’s exhibition bout too which will feature boxers from the Mary Kom foundation – Boichong and Nengneihat.
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