Vijender Singh 'not feeling the heat' ahead of his first home professional bout against Kerry Hope
The Welsh-born Hope, who emigrated to Australia, was also a WBC middleweight champion.
Mumbai: Star Indian boxer Vijender Singh today said he felt no additional pressure before his first home professional bout against Australia's Kerry Hope for the WBO Asia Pacific super middleweight title, but only a sense of responsibility for the future of the sport in the country.
"I think, there is no pressure (but) more responsibility because this fight will decide what is the future of pro boxing in India. People are excited and would be coming to see (the fight)," the 2008 Olympic Games bronze-medallist told reporters here.
"Of course I will have to give (my) 100 per cent, I have to win the fight, that's (an) important part, but there is no pressure, (only) responsibility is there, fulfil it and take the title," said the 30-year-old.
Vijender was on a visit to the Jamnabai Narsee School in suburban Vile Parle to promote the July 16 fight in Delhi, along with Bollywood actor John Abraham.
Vijender, who had won his first six professional fights inside the distance, is up against an opponent, who brings with him the experience of 30 bouts, of which he has won 23, out of which two were by knock-outs.
Exuding confidence ahead of the title fight, Vijender said, "He is a southpaw (left-hander) and I know him and he is a very experienced guy. I spoke to (my) coach. We will take him, it's not that difficult, don't worry."
"I don't want to say anything before the fight, pass any comment or any bad thing about him, like I am going to destroy him," said the bronze medal winner in the 2009 World Championship in middleweight (75kg).
"But I know, he has experience, I know that his recored is 35 or something, but it is a record right now. But I have an Olympic medal. I have got an Olympic medal, I did get (medals) in the Asian Games, Commonwealth Games. I can do that and I know that."
The Welsh-born Hope, who emigrated to Australia, was also a WBC middleweight champion and has moved a division up to super middleweight to take on Vijender.
On fighting for the belt for the first time, the Indian dasher said, "After this I will come in the league, my ranking will be 15 in the world and then it's going to be like going for the world title fight -- slowly, may be next year or after that," he said.
Post the Delhi fight, Vijender, a three-time Olympian and recipient of the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award, is planning to go to the Rio Games to lend his support to the three Indian boxers who have qualified in different weight categories.
"I will go to the Rio Olympics (to support other Indian boxers), after this fight. I will go and just watch the fight in Rio," said Vijender, who lost in the quarter finals of the last Olympic Games in London and also figured in the Athens Games in 2004.