Keep calm and carry on.
That is literally what Vijender Singh claimed his strategy will be come Saturday when he takes on China’s Zulpikar Maimaitiali in Mumbai in a bout titled ‘Battleground Asia’.
On Wednesday, the Indian boxer held a training session for the benefit of the cameras and, as he had been in the last few days, was dismissive of the Chinese boxer, who holds the WBO Oriental Super Middleweight belt.
“He has only been in like eight bouts. I don’t consider him an experienced boxer. He’s young and a strong kid, that is true. He’s younger than me and that is a drawback for him because he makes mistakes in his rush to finish bouts quickly. He will try to dominate the bout from the start and hurry into things. That’s the time I will be calm and composed."
For the record, Zulpikar has been in nine bouts. Ironically, it is Vijender who has been in eight bouts. However, his jibe could possibly be about his decorated amateur career, where he has an Olympic bronze medal to his name.
“My trainer (Lee Beard) just told me to stay calm and don’t be in a hurry because during the bout everyone in the stands will be backing you. So don’t get carried away,” Vijender told journalists on Wednesday. “If he’s going to fight aggressively then I will react accordingly. It’s good if you can get a knockout early, but I’m ready to go all 10 rounds. I’m not like Muhammad Ali to announce how soon I will knock out my opponent before a fight,” he added.
Vijender had already launched a flurry of metaphorical punches in the Chinese pugilist’s direction by talking about how “Chinese products don’t last very long” a day ago in New Delhi.
In Mumbai, he launched another rabbit punch. On being asked if this was his toughest fight to date, the 31-year-old let out a vehement ‘No!’
What about the biggest challenge the 23-year-old will pose?
“What should I say? I don’t think he poses any challenge.”
Just then the press conference took a political turn. After all, the standoff in Doklam has dominated the conversation in both countries and here we have an Indian going up against a Chinese. A broadcast journalist wanted to know what Vijender thought of the standoff.
Vijender’s answer was a measured: “There is a lot of responsibility on me, because it’s India-China and the situation is bad.”
On another question about keeping international politics out of his mind when preparing for a bout, he said: “I do meditation to stay calm and make sure that we don’t get carried away with what others are saying. Just focus on what you are doing. You’re a boxer, just do your job.
“I’ve not had a competitive fight for the last few months but I have been training regularly. My coach always says you should take up the right fight at the right time.”
The boxer revealed that at the moment his full focus is on making his weight of 76.2 kg. John Joyc, Vijender’s strength and conditioning coach, said the Indian was about four pounds overweight as of Wednesday.
“We cannot reduce their weight too early before a fight because they need the energy,” Joyc added.
“It’s normal. It can be done easily,” Vijender said swatting away a query about his run against the clock to drop weight.
For now though, there will be one distraction that will claw at him: on Thursday, his son Abir will have his birthday. But since the boxer’s wife and son do not like to see him the ring, they have chosen to stay in Manchester.
Come Saturday, he could provide the proverbial birthday gift for his son.
Updated Date: Aug 02, 2017 20:24 PM