New Delhi, June 8: Indian professional boxer Vijender Singh will face Australia’s Kerry Hope for the World Boxing Organisation (WBO) Asia Super Middleweight championship decider on July 16 here, it was announced on Monday.

The 30-year-old Indian is coming into the championship bout after triumphing in all the six bouts so far by knock-outs in his year-old professional career.

The bout was originally scheduled for June 11. However, it was postponed due to logistical issues. Thyagaraj Stadium will be the venue for the competition.

Former world No.1 Vijender, the bronze medallist in the 2008 Olympics and the World Championships 2009, faces his biggest hurdle in the form of 34-year-old Australian Hope, who has 12 years of experience in pro boxing.

“I am really looking forward to the India bout, it is going to be a huge moment for me to step inside the ring in front of my home fans. And that is why I am not going to take any break from training because I want to be at my best,” Vijender said at a press conference.

Wales-born Hope, a former middleweight European champion, has won 23 of 30 bouts and has the experience of 183 rounds.

“He (Vijender) has been pro for a year and before that he won medals in the Olympics and World Championships but I have seen it all before. I have been pro for 12 years. I know the crowd will be behind him but I like being the underdog. The pressure is on him. He has to train harder,” Hope said at the press meet.

“I have been world No.3 in the past. I have heard about his achievements but all that is in amateur. I bring a lot of experience in the pro circuit,” he added.

Before the face-off, Vijender said: “I have performed to the best. It has been 12 months since I turned pro, so I am carrying experience. Time will decide what happens on July 16. Just wait and watch.”

The home promoters India-based Infinity Optimal Solutions (IOS) and UK-based Queensberry Promotions — announced that the tickets for the bout will be sold from Tuesday.

“We are expecting a full house. The tickets have been priced from Rs.1000 to Rs 15,000. This is actually a dream realised and perhaps the biggest moment in Indian boxing,” said IOS managing director Neerav Tomar.

The first ticket for the bout was presented to former Indian cricket star and Vijender’s friend Virender Sehwag.

The Thyagaraj Stadium has a capacity of nearly 6,000, and Vijender has already invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi, cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar and several other dignitaries for what promises to be a mega-event.

Raj Kumar

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