Unconquered thus far, star Indian boxer Vijender Singh would look to extend his unblemished record in professional circuit when he spars with tall Russian opponent, Artysh Lopsan, in what is being billed as the 'Battle on Ship' here on Friday. The 2008 Beijing Olympic bronze medallist has not lost a bout since turning professional, boasting of a 12-0 record, which includes eight knockouts.
At the 'Majestic Pride Casino Ship', the 35-year-old will enter the ring after a considerable while. His last bout was against Ghana's former Commonwealth champion Charles Adamu in Dubai in November 2019. Vijender is expected to face a stiff challenge from the 26-year-old Russian, who also has a decent record as a professional boxer. Lopsan, who is 6ft 4-inches tall, in his six bouts as a professional boxer has won four, including two knockouts, besides suffering one defeat and a draw.
Vijender set his weight at 75.1 kgs while Lopsan set his at the official 76.2 kgs at the official weigh-in on Thursday evening. The Indian said due to the COVID-19 pandemic, his UK team could not come to the country, and so he has been training with Jai Bhagwan. "It is hard for everyone and especially in the US and UK (United Kingdom)... all shut down because of COVID and we didn't go for a fight or anything, so I take (training) here in India. "Jai Bhagwan is my trainer now as my UK team couldn't come here because of this pandemic. It is almost like two and half months that we have been training and we are in shape and tomorrow we have a good show," said Vijender on the eve of the fight.
Both the boxers have been training in the coastal state ahead of the marquee event. He had a sparring session with friend-cum-coach Jai Bhagwan at the Salvador-do-Mundo boxing hall on Wednesday. Vijender was also asked if there is pressure of expectations as he has an unbeaten record, to which he answered in the negative. "Because it is one and half year, I did not fight, my last fight was in Dubai, so there is no pressure, it is all about boxing, it is all about sports, it is all about the spirit... "Because of this pandemic, because of this COVID, all things are shut down, we are coming back now, and we are doing our fight, it is all about our sport. There is no pressure. I am here to play boxing," he said.
Vijender said that he has a "game plan in mind" and has discussed it with the coach. "He is tall and I will take it slow at the start but I'm confident of beating him nonetheless. Height is not everything and in boxing, you need strength and strategy. "I have experience under my belt and Lopsan is still a kid. My unbeaten streak will continue after March 19. The tougher the opponent, the more fun to beat him," Vijender had recently said. Instead of going overboard with words, Vijender said he would preserve his energy for the fight. "It is not good to speak before the fight, just control your energy, let's speak after the fight and see you tomorrow," Vijender quipped.
The Russian, on his part, said that he was preparing himself "really hard" for the bout. "It doesn't matter what kind of participants are there, I am going to prepare myself in the same way," he said. "I rather prefer my fists do the talking. We shall see in the ring what Vijender is capable of. I hope it is easy to work for me and I will be the first to end his unbeaten streak. I have trained hard. "I'm confident and India is about to witness its star fall from grace," he added. The contest will be streamed live on 'Book My Show' and Fancode. In another fight, the co-main event, the seasoned Neeraj Goyat, who weighs 65.7 kgs, will take on Sandeep Kumar, weighing 63.60 kgs, in the welterweight division.