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When Vijender Singh or ‘Singh is King’ steps up into the ring on Saturday night to face China’s Zulipikar Maimaitiali, there will be multiple things in his mind at the NSCI in Worli, Mumbai. He would be looking to keep his 8-0 streak going, keep his WBO Asia Pacific super middleweight title around his neck and add Maimaitiali’s WBO Oriental super middleweight title to his profile.
After fighting his previous professional bouts in the UK followed by Delhi, this is the first time that ‘Viju’ and his promoters have moved to the financial capital of the country. Expect plenty of celebrity presence with Sachin Tendulkar the first to get the ticket as part of the promotional campaign for the bout.
Vijender had been practicing and getting ready for the bout in Manchester – as he does – with trainer Lee Beard. He wishes to tap into Maimaitiali’s alleged inexperience. The southpaw has competed in nine bouts and won eight of them (with the remaining one finishing in a draw).
There is little to separate the two boxers with both standing 6’0″ tall (183 cm). Vijender is 31 while Maimaitiali is much younger at 23 and has a southpaw stance in comparison to the Indian boxer’s orthodox style of gearing up.
At the weigh-in on Friday, Vijender said he has to get himself leaner with the bout approaching. “This is India versus China, I don’t need anything and I am excited, I know the whole of India is with me. I am very confident and hope that the fight will be good and India will win. last night I checked my weight it was 78 and I had to be 76.2, so I did not eat anything. My weight is 76.00 today, I will very much focus on diet,” he said. He added that even though he discussed strategy with his coaches, the former Olympian would change his game according to how the Chinese boxer behaves in the ring. “My strategy will depend on how he plays, I will set my game according to him. We have changed a lot in technique and we have worked on it,” he said. “I am experienced. I don’t consider him as an experienced boxer, he is young, but he is a strong kid and we are ready for it. I have a game plan which I discussed with my coach, he (the coach) said stay calm, don’t be in hurry,” he added.