The last time Vijender Singh fought, it took him less than 10 minutes to floor his opponent, Francis Cheka, and notch up his eighth win since turning professional.
However, British professional boxer Amir Khan believes that the Indian star has not yet been tested in the ring.
"At the moment, he’s probably not being tested. But when the big fights are going to come in, that’s when we will see the real Vijender. We’ll see what he’s capable of," Amir told Firstpost, in an interview on Tuesday, on the sidelines of the launch of the Super Boxing League, which he is promoting.
"The main thing is, he has to beat whoever is being put in front of him. And he’s doing that," said Amir, who shoots his answers with as much clarity of thought as he throws his punches.
Amir admits that he is impressed by the Indian, who won bronze at the Beijing Olympics.
"Vijender is doing great things. I like the way he fights. He’s very skilful. He’s won a medal in the Olympics and the Commonwealth Games, that’s not easy! So you have to give him credit for that. Then he moved from India to England to train, so he seems like he’s serious. He seems like he wants to achieve big things in the professional circuit. He’s learning fast," Amir added.
Just like Vijender, Amir too tasted glory in the Olympics for his country before he turned pro. Only in the Brit’s case, he was his nation’s youngest Olympic boxing medallist at 17, when he claimed a silver medal at Athens in 2004, who turned pro soon and then went on to become the youngest pro-boxing champion at 22. The switch was difficult, to say the least.
"The Olympics was an amazing experience. Probably one of my best experiences ever, because that is what made me who I am. The professional circuit is very tough. I was only 22 when I won my first world title. You fight strong men on the pro circuit,"
"As a professional fighter, you have to learn to pace yourself. You slow down a little bit. You work more on your power. The transition to the professional circuit requires to have more power and be more patient," he said.
Over the last couple of years, there have been murmurs of a fight between him and Vijender, a fire first lit by the Indian when he said he would like to fight the Brit after a win.
"I don’t know why it’s not materialised. I’m in the top three in the world. I’m one of the biggest names in the world. Vijender is still building his career up," Amir said hinting at why the move to fight against Vijender would not be feasible at the moment, even though he admits that a fight between an Indian and a Pakistani origin boxer would be a great narrative that should translate into tickets and pay-per-view sales.
People in Amir’s camp told Firstpost on Tuesday that the only reason for the fight not being discussed seriously so far by both parties is that Vijender’s camp has been dragging its feet.
Amir also has a shrewd business acumen and would hate to let any marketing opportunity slip, especially for things that he is financially invested in.
"Maybe if wants to fight under my league, we can have an SBL promotion match, an exhibition fight of sorts," he added.
Given how early he switched to professional boxing, coupled with the fact that he had to be content with a silver medal, one wonders whether the Bolton resident would want to compete in the Olympics again. Moreover, now that amateur boxing’s parent body has passed a resolution that professionals can fight in the Olympics.
Amir, however, pointed out that competing in the Olympics did not make any sense for someone like him.
"Mr Wu (AIBA chief Ching-Kuo Wu) is a friend of mine. He asked me why I don’t fight in the Olympics. Is AIBA willing to pay me millions to go there and fight?"
"And then if you’re going to fight five times against amateur boxers, it gets a little complicated. Why would I risk my whole career and go to the Olympics? What if I hurt my hand in a bout or get beaten by an amateur boxer? So it just doesn’t make sense. We are prizefighters. We fight for money. If I’m not going to get paid for it, there no interest in it for me," Amir said.
For now, he is looking to fight another big name boxer, Manny Pacquiao, who he was slated to fight in April before the fight was cancelled.
"I think Manny didn’t want to fight. He knew it was going to be a hard fight for him. We have known each other since 2008. We used to spar together all the time. But since then, I’ve changed my fight style. He knows it is going to be a very hard fight for him, that’s why he’s probably thought I’ll fight somebody easy,"
"That’s why he’s fighting Australian Jeff Horn, who is an unknown fighter really. But I still think our fight will happen, because it makes good money. It’s a big financial fight," Amir said.
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Updated Date: May 10, 2017 16:32:42 IST