New Delhi, Nov 14: Star Indian boxer Vijender Singh will defend his WBO Asia Pacific Super Middleweight title against former world champion Francis Cheka on December 17 at the Thyagaraj Sports Complex here.
Cheka, the current Intercontinental Super Middleweight champion, is expected to provide the toughest test of Vijender's professional career. He is Vijender's most experienced opponent till date.
Cheka won the Intercontinental Super Middleweight title in February this year against Geard Ajetovic of Serbia.
The 34-year-old from Tanzania is a veteran of 43 fights with 32 wins, 17 of them knockouts. He has faced some of the top super-middleweight boxers in the world, including WBA World Champion Fedor Chudinov of Russia and WBC International Champion Matthew Macklin of the UK.
He has racked up 300 rounds under his belt over the 16 years he has spent in the professional arena. In contrast, Vijender has so far fought only 27 rounds in his fledgling professional career.
Vijender made an explosive start to his professional career by blowing away his first seven opponents. The Haryana pugilist currently has a record of seven wins out of seven bouts with six knockouts.
The Indian claimed the WBO Asia Pacific Super Middleweight title at the Thyagaraj Stadium in July this year by defeating Australian Kerry Hope.
The win over Hope also put Vijender Singh in the top 10 of the WBO rankings.
"I am ready to give this kid a lesson in boxing. I will come to India. No turning back. No surrender. I have heard a lot about this Indian boxer and there's a lot of hype around him, I just can't wait to be the one to put him in his place," Cheka said in a statement.
"I know he trains in Manchester, but it will be a great fun to beat the Indian lad in his own country and take away his title.
"If you see my record, I have a total of 17 knockouts, I have played way more rounds than he has, I am sure I will be able to knock him out in the first round itself," he added.
"I have seen his previous fights, he has fought absolutely nobody so far and I am sure he will get rid of facing me in the ring.
"The day he will meet me in the ring, he won't have a reply for anything I throw at him and once I start landing my punches at him it be will game over for India's golden boy. There's no doubt in my mind that I will knock out Vijender."
After defeating Hope, Vijender has been training in Manchester for his title defence next month.
"Cheka is a highly experienced boxer, he has many bouts under his belt, but none of this demotivates me.
"I am training harder to match up to his level and hoping for another win. Once again my fight will be at my home ground, just like last time the support that I got from the crowd was overwhelming and I am sure there will be more people who will come out to support me," Vijender said.
"I am confident of my win. I feel my stance is becoming better with every training session that I am undergoing.
"My trainer also feels that my punches are stronger than before and he has also put me under high intensity training.
"It's a matter of my title this time, I am sure of protecting my title with as much pride as I won it. I am going to leave no stone unturned to make sure my title stays with me."
Vijender's trainer Lee Beard is also confident that his ward will win.
"We have been working on Vijender's strength and power in the gym and he is punching a lot harder. I can already see the benefits of the high intensity training sessions we have been putting him and everyone will see an even better Vijender on December 17," he said.
"Of all the fighters I have trained, he is one of the best when it comes to learning; he is an extremely quick learner. He will be prepared and ready to defend his title in style."