Manchester: Former featherweight legend Naseem Hamed feels that India's Vijender Singh can become the next big Asian superstar in professional boxing.
Vijender yesterday watched Arsenal's 3-0 victory over Manchester United alongside promoter Frank Warren and his childhood hero Hamed, who told the Indian boxing sensation that he could become as big as boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao of Philippines.
"It was a real honour to meet him (Hamed) at the Emirates Stadium face-to-face and have a good chat with him. He has been on top of the boxing world and the advice he gave was very sound and I took it all in as I'm now starting out on my professional career," Vijender said in a statement issued by IOS, his promoters in the pro circuit.
"Manny Pacquiao is a major Asian star and Hamed said there is no reason why I cannot become just as big as him," he added.
Vijender said he idolises the British ring legend Hamed, a former three-time world champion and global sensation in the 1990s.
"Naseem Hamed was massive, massive, influence on my career, he was my idol and the reason I got into boxing.
"He was awesome. Everything about him, the ring entrances, the knockout power, the entertainment, he was a superstar, everybody around the world watched him fight," said the 29-year-old boxer from Haryana
Vijender is currently based here for his four-round middleweight professional debut, scheduled to be held this Saturday against Sonny Whiting at the Manchester Arena.
"Professional boxing is just starting now in India and I believe that in the next few years you will start seeing some very good professional boxers coming on the world scene.
"I'm very excited for Saturday night, I've trained so hard for this and I can't wait to get in the ring," the Olympic medallist said.