The booming professional boxing scene in India is set for another boost come Saturday with the WBC Asia title bout between defending champion Neeraj Goyat and Australia’s Ben Kite, both of whom will be aiming to inch closer to a shot at the world title.
The ticketed event will be held at the Talkatora Stadium, which has been host to the 2010 Commonwealth Games boxing event.
Neeraj, who lifted the title last year and has won 7 of his 11 bouts, is up against a rather greenhorn rival, who has an accumulated experience of 9 fights. The 26-year-old has won five of his bouts since turning pro in 2014.
“This is a very important bout for me because if I win on Saturday, then I would enter the WBC rankings and that would give me a chance to aim for the world title. It is going to be a 12-round contest as is the norm in WBC,” said the 24-year-old welterweight.
Kite said he has similar goals in mind.
“It’s a huge fight for me and I am really excited for Saturday, it will open a whole lot of opportunities for me. Neeraj is a tough guy but come Saturday, I will change that. I I will show him that I am tougher,” said the 26-year-old, indulging in the kind of extravagant chatter that is common in professional boxing.
“I know the India-Australia rivalry is quite big in cricket and I am sure people will also enjoy the rivalry in boxing,” he added.
The show, which will also feature three undercard bouts, comes a couple of months after the WBO Asia title bout between Vijender Singh and Kerry Hope. That event witnessed a sell-out crowd, including political bigwigs, film actors and cricketers.
The hype is not quite the same for the Saturday evening show but the organisers are hopeful of a good turnout.
“We are expecting a good crowd because the response to the online ticket sales has been good,” said an official of the Professional Boxing Organisation of India, which is conducting the event.