Star boxer Vijender Singh defeated Australia's Kerry Hope in a hard-fought bout to win the WBO Asia/Pacific Middleweight title at the Thyagaraj Stadium in New Delhi on Saturday evening.
Faced with the most experienced and highly-rated opponent of his professional career, Vijender carved out a 98-92, 98-92, 100-90 verdict from the three judges to extend his record to seven wins from as many fights.
Despite the unanimous decision, it was far from easy for Vijender in the first 10-round bout of his career.
The Australian exhibited superior technique and footwork for most of the fight although the Indian was the more powerful boxer.
"Thank you India! I didn't expect it to go to ten rounds. It is all to my country, not about me! We have been working hard for this. Finally we did it and we will work to improve my ranking now," Vijender said after the bout.
"This win is special. This is for my country, for my India. I am now ranked 15th in the world," he added.
"This was my first 10 round fight. I was surprised by how my body responded," he added.
The country was ecstatic following Vijender's successful outing in his maiden professional clash on home soil, with people from various walks of life taking to the social media to express their delight.
Let us take a look at a select few posts, ranging from the likes of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, former India cricketer Virender Sehwag, to champion female boxer MC Mary Kom:
The PM, whose social media accounts are usually buzzing with activity, called his victory "yet another display of immense skill".
Congratulations @boxervijender for a hard fought and well deserved win. It was yet another display of immense skill, strength & stamina.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) July 16, 2016
Let's not forget President Pranab Mukherjee.
— President of India (@RashtrapatiBhvn) July 16, 2016
Star female boxer MC Mary Kom, who won a bronze in the 2012 London Olympics, was present at the venue to cheer for Vijender, and congratulated him on Twitter after the latter was crowned champion.
— Mary Kom (@MangteC) July 16, 2016
Fellow Haryanvi and retired Indian opening batsman Virender Sehwag is known for using the most 'eloquent' of words in his tweets, and gave a tribute of his own for the star Indian boxer.
— Virender Sehwag (@virendersehwag) July 16, 2016
Several other cricketers, including current Indian limited-overs skipper MS Dhoni, also congratulated Vijender for clinching the win.
Saw a full mch of boxing after yrs.thks @boxervijender for mkg INDIA proud,it's just the start ur hrd wrk,dedication and sacrifice paid off
— Mahendra Singh Dhoni (@msdhoni) July 16, 2016
Congratulations @boxervijender on winning WBO Asia Pacific Super Middleweight Championship title. Boom boom those punches
— Shikhar Dhawan (@SDhawan25) July 17, 2016
— VVS Laxman (@VVSLaxman281) July 17, 2016
— Suresh Raina (@ImRaina) July 16, 2016
Several celebrities did not miss out extending the wishes, with quite a few actors attending the event.
— Randeep Hooda (@RandeepHooda) July 16, 2016
— Neha Dhupia (@NehaDhupia) July 16, 2016
— Ayushmann Khurrana (@ayushmannk) July 16, 2016
— Mayanti Langer Binny (@MayantiLanger_B) July 16, 2016
It was a glorious day indeed, not just for Indian boxing, but for sports in the country in general. Not only did an Indian boxer create history with his punches, but there was also a vast number of spectators at the venue to cheer for him, something that is mostly witnessed in cricket.
While it was big leap for Vijender as far as his professional career is concerned, it was a giant one for Indian boxing.
Published Date: Jul 17, 2016 10:53 am | Updated Date: Jul 17, 2016 01:02 pm