Pride of India Vijender Singh smashes his way to win WBO Asia Pacific title

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Just a year after entering pro boxing, Vijender Singh has made the WBO Asia Pacific Super Middleweight Championship his own with a scintillating win over former European champion Kerry Hope at the Thyagaraj Complex, Delhi, on Saturday. The 30-year-old won by a unanimous decision by the three judges.

It was a star-studded night in Delhi, which saw the likes of Rahul Gandhi, Mary Kom, Yuvraj Singh, Virender Sehwag, Suresh Raina, and Randeep Hooda add glamor to the occasion. The evening started with a host of undercard matches, the most significant of which saw Siddharth Verma of Maharashtra win the Super Welterweight Championship against Dilbagh Thakran of Haryana by a unanimous decision.

However, all eyes were on the big fight of the night which saw an undefeated Vijender Singh take on the experienced Aussie Kerry Hope.

In the first round, Vijender made a solid start, albeit a bit defensive one. In the initial stages, both the boxers measured each others' strength and weakness, without giving away too much away to their opponent. Hope came out with a much more positive intent in the second round, and Vijender's defensive skills were put to test. The Australian was seen dancing around the ring with a swagger that very few of Vijender's previous opponents had showed in the ring. It was evident that the Aussie was faster on his legs, while Vijender was mostly relying on his big reach. However, the Indian pugilist did manage to land a couple of punches to Hope's gut, and another on his temple, and seemingly moved ahead on points.

But Hope came back strongly in the third round by pushing Vijender on the backfoot and landing some punches on his opponent. Vijender even missed a punch, as Hope swayed away, and the Indian lost his balance and fell down.

The Indian showed a lot more positive intent in the fourth round, and after a couple of gentle left jabs, he took Hope to the corner of the net at one point and landed a series of punches on him. One of which disfigured Hope's left eye. However, the Australian managed to land a punch on Vijender's face in the dying moments, which ended an even round.

In the fifth round, Vijender tried to corner Hope in the ring, but the Australian's swift movement made it difficult for him to do so. The Indian missed a couple of opportunities to land a clean blow on Hope, however, he did manage to win the round overall.

The Indian came out firing all guns in the sixth round and landed some glorious punches on his opponent, who looked shaken, although showed no signs of going down. The seventh round also belong to Vijender, who grew in confidence and stature as the match progressed. Hope was there for the taking in the 8th round, but Vijender was also showing signs of tiring down. It seemed both the boxers were saving fuel for the final two rounds of the fight.

In the final round, Vijender played with a confidence of someone who knew he was ahead on points, while Hope seemed a bit too desperate. Vijender managed to block and dodge his opponent's attacks, and as the final bell rang, he raised his arm in delight. All the three judges voted for Vijender unanimously with scores of 98-92, 98-92, 100-90. It was a historic moment, and even Vijender, who has made a name for being an eloquent speaker, was left short of words. He broke down in the ring, and all he could utter was, "thank you".

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