Indian pugilist Mandeep Jangra has been signed up by Roy Jones Jr to fight in the professional circuit for the next three years, becoming the first from the country to associate with the American boxing legend.
The 29-year-old Commonwealth Games silver medallist had turned pro in 2020 and holds a 3-0 record, same as his opponents in the upcoming April 1 fight in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Ryan Rebar of USA.
Being signed up by Jones is a huge fillip for Jangra, an Arjuna awardee, who beat USA's Brandon Sandoval in the lightweight category in his third professional bout in Plant City, Florida last March.
The one against Rebar will be Jangra's fight number four in the pro boxing. Speaking to PTI from Florida, Jangra expressed his excitement at being associated with the 54-year-old, who is considered as one of the greatest boxers of all time.
"I have been signed up by the great Roy Jones Jr, and this is huge for me. I mean there can be no one better than him for me as far as my professional boxing career is concerned. This adds a new dimension to my journey in the pro-circuit," Jangra said.
As he spoke, the fact that he is the first Indian boxer to come under the wings of the American great was not lost on Jangra, who hails from Kharian in Haryana's Sirsa district. Jangra, who is a silver medallist from the 2013 Asian Championship, dominated his last bout with poise and effective punching, and he is looking to do an encore against his next opponent, who is promoted as 'Square Ring' in the pro boxing circles.
"Like me, he also holds a 3-0 record, but I quite confident of overcoming the challenges posed by him without much ado," Jangra said. Jones was present with Jangra as the Indian completed the paper work and welcomed him with a hug. Jones Jr ended his career with a record of 66-9.
His record as an amateur was also very impressive as he notched 121 wins as against just 13 reverses. A silver medallist at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, Jones appeared to be winning his final bout before one of the most controversial decision in boxing history robbed him of the gold medal.
The judges' decision to award the victory to Park Si-Hun, the home fighter, was even investigated by the IOC, who however saw no wrongdoing. In an utter mismatch, Jones landed 86 punches to Park's 32, while the Korean also received two standing eight-counts and two warnings from the referee.
Even the most fervent local fans must have assumed that their man had lost, but three of the five judges thought otherwise. Years later, having firmly established himself as one of the greats, Jones took on Mike Tyson in an exhibition match in November 2020. Held during the Covid pandemic, the bout was billed 'Lockdown Knockdown'.