NEW DELHI: It is the the biggest fight of his emergent professional career, but Indian boxing star Vijender Singh said the WBO Asia title contest against Kerry Hope is no huge deal for him and he is taking it as just another stepping stone in the circuit.
The 30-year-old dasher, who is unbeaten in the professional arena, has won all his bouts via konckouts.
Eyeing a seventh knockout in what is meant to be a 10-round contest, Vijender said his approach to the contest is no different from the one he had for his previous bouts.
"I won all my six bouts, the seventh is coming up one year into the circuit.
So I am a pro now, I am feeling like a pro now," Vijender told PTI ahead of the Saturday night showdown, which will feature seven undercard bouts apart from the main event.
"Saturday's fight is not a be all or end all fight for me. It's being built up like a big, big fight but for me it's like any other fight. Get inside the ring, win it, come back and focus on the next. I have a lot to do, this fight is like one more step in my career. I don't think it's a big deal for me. For me ok, it's a job, get done with it," he said.
Vijender is up against Hope, who brings with him an experience bank of 30 bouts, of which he has won 23, two of them knockouts.
The Welsh-born Hope, who emigrated to Australia, was also a WBC middleweight champion and has moved a division to super middleweight to take on Vijender.
Asked about his thoughts on Hope, India's first Olympic and World Championships medallist said he prefers to focus on himself.
"We are just doing our training. I am not bothered about what he might be doing. I am just focussed on myself," the strapping six-footer said.
"I don't think anybody needs to talk big, because ultimately the punch does the talking. If an opponent says something nasty and even if I talk back with something more nasty, that hardly makes a difference to the result inside the ring.
So I prefer to talk in the ring because only there everyone would know who is best or better," he explained.
The title bout, a win in which would give him a crack at the top-15 of WBO rankings, comes exactly a year after he turned pro and Vijender said the timing couldn't be more perfect.
"This bout has come at the right time although it's been just one year since I turned pro because I am not a 20-year-old greenhorn. I am an experienced guy and I train a lot," he said.
'Triumph of underdog'
Quite happy to be tagged the underdog, Indian boxing star Vijender Singh's Welsh-born Australian opponent for this Saturday's WBO Asia title bout, Kerry Hope, said he is inspired by the giant-slaying Welsh football team which stunned one and all by reaching the Euro Championships semifinals recently.
Hope, a former WBC middleweight champion, has moved up a division to super middleweight for the clash against Vijender, who is undefeated since turning pro last year and has claimed all his wins via knockouts.
"I will chop him down," was the 34-year-old's prompt reply when asked whether he has figured out how to hand Vijender his maiden professional defeat.
If the title itself on the line was not inspiration enough, Hope said he has also drawn from the fabulous run that Gareth Bale and Co. Enjoyed at the just-concluded Euro where they stunned the more fancied Belgium to make the semifinals beating all expectations.
"I have been following them but because of the time difference in Australia, I didn't get a chance to watch all the games. But they have done well, We lost to eventual champions, Portugal. I feel inspired by them, I have a chance to do what what they did in the Euros, triumph of the underdog," Hope told PTI in an interaction.
"I love the underdog tag, there is no pressure on me. The expectations are from Vijender, so he is the one who has to live up to the pressure," he said.
Asked what Saturday's bout means to him, Hope said, "I have been training hard, two times a day. I have to be in the best shape for this fight because I want to progress to bigger and better things from here."
Hope said he expects the crowd to be hostile to him on Saturday but he would look to make that work in his favour.
"I don't think anybody would be cheering for me but it's OK, nobody can help him in the ring. It's just me and him there," he laughed.
"I got a chance to see some of his videos and he is a talented guy no doubt, he has done well as an amateur and has had a good stint so far in the UK. But I have fought all over the world. Australia, UK, US, everywhere. So that sets me apart," he signed off. - PTI