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Vijender Singh Vs Francis Cheka

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According to BoxRec, which keeps an exhaustive database of professional boxers from around the world, Tanzania’s Francis Cheka, 34, is the 52nd-ranked super middleweight (73-76 kg) in the world. He is also a former WBF world champion. The 31-year-old Vijender Singh, who is the reigning WBO Asia-Pacific champion, currently occupies the 54th rung in those ratings. It ought to be a very close bout on Saturday night at the Thyagraj Sports Complex in New Delhi then, right?
Wrong, is the odd-makers’ unanimous prediction. According to their estimate — and theirs are often more reliable indicators than what the promoters and announcers would proclaim at carefully choreographed staredowns — Vijender is the hot favourite to win the bout. According to the William Hill odds, for every Rs 33 bet on Vijender, one can only get Rs 1, whereas a similar amount on Cheka’s win can give you Rs 330.

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Jay Msangi was pretty impressed with all the promotional activities around the 'Night of the Champions'. Looking at the press kits, whose covers featured India's Vijender Singh  and Tanzania's Francis Boniface Cheka, he said, "You guys (Indian promoters) have done a great job," and quietly secured one for himself. 


Being a boxing promoter himself, Msangi understands the hard work that goes behind organising a fight night. He is here with his most famous boxer Cheka, who will be challenging Vijender, the current WBO Asia-Pacific Super Middleweight champion, at the Thyagaraj Sports Complex in New Delhi today. 


"Vijender has a big brand behind him and one of the best trainers in the world. But don't get me wrong, the promoters have made a big mistake by choosing Cheka as his opponent. I think they should have picked someone less experienced," Msangi said, continuing what has been a trend since the day the fight was announced. 


In a recent press conference when the two boxers were locked in a faceoff, Cheka put out his left palm with fingers stretched out, indicating that Vijender's defence will be over in just five rounds. The Tanzanian then shoved the Indian, leading to a minor scuffle.


The entire episode gave the impression that Vijender and Cheka share a longstanding rivalry in the ring. But that's not the case at all. They have never even met before, let alone having a fight. Some of the theatrics might be staged to add some spice to the contest and generate interest, but the one-upmanship is an old strategy in pro boxing  to gain psychological advantage over one's opponent. 


If that's what Cheka and his team have been trying to do here, they seem to have failed in their endeavour as Vijender has no time for such indulgences. 


"I don't believe in talking. I believe in boxing," Vijender said, dismissing his opponent's verbal jabs as he has done throughout his short but successful pro career. 


Cheka, the former world champion and current WBF Intercontinental Super Middleweight title-holder, also made light of Vijender's Olympic bronze medal and scoffed at his lack of experience in the pro circuit. 

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“I will end Vijender Singh’s boxing career,” the Tanzanian boxer Francis Cheka, who is all set to face Vijender Singh for WBO Asia-Pacific Championship belt on December 17 at Thyagraj Stadium in New Delhi, has issued a warning. But the self-proclaimed “King of the Ring” is not the one to back away from a fight. In response to Cheka, the Bhiwani Express said that he will show in the ring who is the best. If truth be told, in his first-ever WBO Asia-Pacific title defense, Vijender is an ultimate underdog.


The story so far


When Vijender announced his decision to turn pro, many doubted his move to quit amateur boxing. He chose to answer his critics with the swag that won him bronze at 2008 Olympics and let his punches do the talking. What followed was a series of knockouts. The 30-year old won his first six pro bouts via knockouts and kept getting better everytime he took the ring. His next challenge gave him a shot at WBO Asia Pacific Championship against 34-year old Australian boxer Kerry Hope. In front of a jam-packed Delhi crowd, Singh completely dominated his opponent and recorded his first title victory by unanimous decision of 92-98, 92-98, 90-100. Within a year, Singh has won seven bouts on the trot, and a title.

Cheka the toughest


“With experience in boxing, you learn how to be a scientific boxer and how to fight easy,” Manny Pacquiao once said. Apart from dominant physical prowess, Singh’s opponent on Saturday brings experience to the table. Cheka has been around the circuit for over 16 years. He has fought with the best in the world and has been a World Champion. In the 43 bouts of his career, the Tanzanian, who currently holds Inter-Continental Super Middleweight Championship, has won 33, 17 via knockouts. Cheka was high on confidence in the mandatory face-off on Tuesday and did a lot of ‘trash-talk’. “Vijender’s Olympic medal is nothing. I am a World Champion and inter-continental champion… Vijender looks scared already. India will be ashamed on Saturday,” Cheka said. Vijender smirked and chose not to reply.


High stakes


On Saturday, Singh puts everything at stake. If he loses, he not only gives away the belt, he also loses an opportunity to enter top 10 WBO rankings. For Cheka, however, the fight does not mean much. “I have fought many big fights. I don’t consider the fight against Vijender as a big one. I have fought against star American boxers, who have won world titles. I have defeated them. I am going to beat Vijender on his homeland,” Cheka said in an interview.


The Indian boxer knows he is in for a tough game on Saturday and is depending a lot on the home crowd advantage. “I am thankful to my friends for such support in my last fight [against Hopes]. Chants of ‘Viju’, ‘Viju’ are still fresh in my mind. I am expecting the same this time too,” he said in an interview.


With the Delhi crowd backing his ‘home-boy’ and the 5-month training sessions in Manchester, Vijender feels he is confident he can end the fight in six rounds. If he is able to retain his belt, Singh will once again prove his doubters wrong, but for now, Cheka seems to have an edge over his opponent.

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Professional boxing is something new to India, but Vijender Singh is placing the country in the global map of boxing with some impressive performances. The Indian boxer has won all his seven fights as a pro boxer, and will hope to maintain that winning streak as he takes on Francis Cheka in New Delhi to defend his WBO Asia Super Middleweight title.
Vijender last fought in India, where he won his first title, defeating Kerry Hope, which was watched from the ringside by several well-known Indian sports personalities. Things are not going to change this time around as well.
Famous Indian sportspersons including Virender Sehwag, politicians and his friends from the Bollywood industry will also be present at the venue supporting the Indian boxer and that will make the contest a glamorous affair.
Vijender has promised to make this bout a night to remember with some electric performance inside the ring, but it is not going to be easy for the Indian. Vijender's bout against Cheka is going to be his toughest fight and more importantly the Tanzanian boxer has 300 rounds of boxing under his belt.
The war of words have already started, as Cheka has stated that he will teach Vijender a lesson inside the boxing ring, while the Indian has spoken about the number of punches, which he will land on Saturday. 
Vijender, deep inside, must also be aware that he needs to take his game a notch higher against Cheka to defend his title. He has come fully prepared for the bout after some tough sparring session in UK under the watchful eyes of trainer Lee Beard.

List of VIPs attending the bout in New Delhi.

Sportspersons: Virender Sehwag, Shikhar Dhawan, Yogeshwar Dutt, Sushil Kumar, Mary Kom, Akhil Kumar and Jitender Kumar.
Bollywood: Neha Dhupia and Raghu Ram.
Politicians: Baba Ramdev, Kiren Rijiju, Vijay Goel, Manish Sisodia and Bhupinder Hooda.

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It's 8-0! The Vijender Singh juggernaut rolled on without a glitch as the Indian boxing star took less than 10 minutes to successfully defend his WBO Asia-Pacific Super Middleweight title with an emphatic Technical Knockout win over Tanzania's Francis Cheka here today.


Vijender landed the winning blow in the third round of what was to be a 10-round contest to leave the former World Champion Cheka dazed and a packed Thyagraj Stadium delirious.

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Walking in to the now trademark tune of 'Singh is King', Vijender had the crowd excited even before he entered the ring. When the bout finally kicked off, Cheka seemed quicker off the blocks even as It's 8-0! The Vijender Singh juggernaut rolled on without a glitch as the Indian boxing star took less than 10 minutes to successfully defend his WBO Asia-Pacific Super Middleweight title with an emphatic Technical Knockout win over Tanzania's Francis Cheka here today.

Vijender landed the winning blow in the third round of what was to be a 10-round contest to leave the former World Champion Cheka dazed and a packed Thyagraj Stadium delirious. played block and dodge. However, the Indian got into the groove soon enough and landed lusty uppercut to the body to rattle Cheka.


Cheka seemed on the backfoot in the second round and was wary of having a go at the hard-hitting Haryana-lad, who stuck to landing clean and straight blows. Cheka was also undone by the reach advantage that Vijender enjoyed.

While Cheka struggled to keep his balance owing to his shorter reach, Vijender put his long arms to good use.

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The WBO Asia-Pacific title won and defended successfully, Indian boxing star Vijender Singh will now be on the prowl for a new belt and could be challenging for the Commonwealth or the Oriental crown in the next couple of months.


Up against Tanzania's former world champion Francis Cheka in his Super Middleweight title defence clash last night, Vijender took less than 10 minutes to score a knockout win and remain undefeated in his professional career, which is eight fights old now.


Next up for him could be a Commonwealth title fight in Leicester. The Commonwealth Super Middleweight is currently held by British boxer Luke Blackledge, who has 22 wins, 2 draws and 3 losses to show for in his 27-fight career so far.


"I don't have any plan for the new year right now. Fighting in Delhi or fighting abroad, it doesn't make a difference to me. We will think about the next opponent," was the 31-year-old Haryana-lad's nonchalant response to a query on his schedule for next year after last night's bout.


However, his promoters -- Infinity Optimal Solutions (IOS) -- were a tad more specific with the company's MD Neerav Tomar detailing the possibilities for 2017.


"We have been discussing that probably Vijender might just go back to UK and fight there or in China or in Dubai. So it's not just gonna be about fighting in India," Tomar said.

"We are next looking for an opportunity to fight in Leicester, there is a high Indian population there. That's an option potentially next year. We have been debating about the next fight. I think we are going to go for a new title because he has this title. We are going to go for a Commonwealth title or even the inter-continental title. There is a good Russian boxer and there is a good Oriental (Chinese) fighter. That could be in the next couple of months," he explained.


"There is a possibility he might even challenge for the WBO European title because he is fighting mostly in the UK. So he can qualify for that as well," added a spokesperson of Vijender's British promoters Queensberry Promotions.

Vijender, on the other hand, spoke mostly on what he does best, fighting inside the ring. Happy to have ended his season by successfully defending the title he won here in July, India's first Olympic medallist in boxing dedicated the triumph to the country's soldiers who have lost their lives in the year going by.


"I dedicate this victory to our martyred soldiers. I felt bad when, before the fight, I got to know that three soldiers had been martyred in a terror attack in Kashmir (yesterday). I dedicate this win to all the soldiers who have been martyred this year because it is because of them that this country is there. We are nothing without them. It was depressing to hear that three soldiers died today in a terror attack,

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