In 2009, Vijender Singh was officially the world’s number one amateur middleweight (AIBA rankings) and, a decade on, the Indian sensation expects to be sat on a similar perch in the professional arena.
Last month the sub-continent’s poster boy produced a sizzling display to stop Rochester foghorn Sonny Whiting in the third round of his paid bow at Manchester Arena and this Saturday at Dublin’s National Stadium he moves to the second rung of the ladder when he faces Nottingham’s undefeated Dean Gillen in a scheduled four rounder.
‘I’d done everything I wanted to do in the amateurs,’ says the humble six footer who medalled at the Asian Games, Commonwealth Games, World Seniors and 2008 Beijing Olympics.
‘I’ve no idea how many amateur contests I had or what my record was. I began boxing training in 1998 but didn’t have my first contest until 2001, when I was about 16.
‘But I’d already attended three Olympic Games and won a medal so decided to give my time and hard work to the pro game. It’s the right place for me.’
This June the part-time catwalk model who has already starred in Bollywood movies signed a professional deal with Queensberry Promotions and re-located to Manchester where local coach Lee Beard was commissioned to oversee his transformation between the codes.
‘I’ve always been a thinking boxer but professional boxing is a far more brutal sport and you must fight harder,’ says the Deputy Superintendent of Police in his native Haryana, northern India, who turned 30 last week.
‘Right now I’m focussed on learning a new process and it’s lovely. I spar three times a week and at the start I admit it was difficult. They hit me very hard!
‘No one is perfect. There’s technical adjustments to be made. Lee is a very good trainer who adds little techniques without making big changes. In particular, my footwork has needed to change. I can’t jump around the ring. That said, many pros I spar are not used to my movement. I’m also working hard to build endurance; spar six or seven rounds.’
Away from the gym, the easy-natured prospect has adjusted effortlessly to Mancunian culture, if not its climate!
‘Here, my life is very easy, solely about boxing; train, eat, sleep! The only downside is your damp weather. Right now, it’s a bit too chilly,’ he quips.
‘I stay in an apartment in central Manchester which is very convenient. I love the environment and enjoy the city. I go to the mall and watch Bollywood movies which I adore.
‘I also enjoy all sports and love the sporting culture in Britain. On weekends I love to watch the football or the rugby. I’ve not decided on City or United yet. I love all teams, all football.’
The stylish skilster has found fight followers to be as fervent as footie fans and he can’t wait to publically showcase his wares again in the Irish Republic’s capital on Saturday.
‘I spent one month in Dublin before the 2012 London Olympics and I’ve so many Twitter friends there. It’s going to be amazing and I can’t wait to put on a show,’ says Vijender who is married to software engineer Archana and has a two year old son.
‘Unlike in India, sports fans in the UK really know their boxing. If you box well, fight hard, they love you.
‘I’ve no big dreams just yet other than to keep doing my job, keep winning. Lots of Asians love Amir Khan. Every nation needs a hero. Hopefully I can be India’s.’
Watch Vijender’s fight on the ‘Second Coming’ bill from Dublin’s National Stadium this Saturday, live and exclusive on BoxNation, the Channel of Champions, from 5pm (Sky 437/490HD/Virgin 546/Talk Talk 415 or Livesport.TV).
Fast improving Belfast featherweight Ciaran McVarnock gets a rare but welcome opportunity to flaunt his talent on home turf tomorrow evening when he features in a four rounder on the monster ‘Second Coming’ bill at Dublin’s National Stadium.
The one time protégé of ex Commonwealth cruiserweight king Darren Corbett at the Sacred Heart ABC in Belfast will be hoping to extend his unbeaten run to six.
‘I usually box far away from home so this’ll be fantastic,’ says the humble 23 year old Ulsterman, known as ‘Bunty’, who is now schooled by ‘Arnie’ Farnell in Manchester.
‘There’s about 100 coming down from Belfast but I’m anticipating great support from all the Irish in the arena.’
The solitary blemish on Ciaran’s pro slate thus far occurred in his last gig when he tied over four rounds with Zaragoza’s Jose Acero in Marbella.
Since joining the paid ranks in February 2013, McVarnock has served an invaluable if painful apprenticeship as a chief spar hand to ex IBF bantam boss Paul Butler at Farnell’s Failsworth gym.
‘During our first spar, Paul dropped me for the first time in my life with a body shot,’ concedes Ciaran, who great uncle Eddie ‘Bunty’ Doran beat Scotland’s world flyweight champion Jackie Paterson back in the 1940s.
‘Paul’s hurt me since but has never put me down again. We usually don’t stand and trade. I love picking things up from sparring him or watching him; he’s so skilful with his head movement, shoulder rolls and footwork. He’s an absolute gentleman to boot.’
But now it’s time to start advancing his own career.
‘The busier I am, the quicker I’ll improve,’ he says.
‘I’m a featherweight but thus far just two of my opponents have been around 9st, 9st 2(lbs). The rest were much heavier. Once I start fighting boys my size I’ll really start to shine.
‘Next winter (2016), I’d like to be fighting for some form of title but I’m in no rush, one fight at a time. I’m still a novice, still learning every day. I’m certainly not at a stage to be calling fighters out.’
He knows a quality performance tomorrow is imperative if he’s to persuade the matchmakers to keep him active.
‘I hear the opponent is a bit of a survivor, hard to tag with a clean shot but hopefully, I’ll be able to show my boxing and skill....make ‘Arnie’ proud!’
Anthony ‘Arnie’ Farnell, the former WBU middleweight champion who has trained McVarnock for his entire pro career ,adds: ‘Ciaran McVarnock’s a real life ‘Rocky’ story,’
‘Putting it mildly, he weren’t the most talented when he first landed but, through hard work and determination, he’s just got better and better. He’s a top, top lad, quite shy but he’d do anything for anyone and he really wants to learn. He’s come on leaps and bounds sparring Butler.
‘When Ciaran first came to me he was an out and out scrapper. Now, if anything, he’s gone too far the other way. He’s using his brain too much!
‘He’s got more heart and determination than any fighter I’ve ever met. He’s so dedicated, he deserves everything he gets. If I told him to go for a 30 mile run after a brutal training session, trust me, he’d do it without a hint of complaint. He’ll go through walls and, because of that, he’ll get a lot out of his career.
‘Forget the blip in Spain last time. Even though it was short notice and he needed to lose a lot of weight, he comfortably beat a Spaniard in Spain but they called it a draw. All part of the learning curve.
‘Opportunities have been limited but now a businessman called John Blower has started to look after Ciaran and we expect him to really kick on. He just needs lots of fights now and we’ll get him there. Another two years and he’ll be knocking on the top ten.
‘I’d be very surprised and disappointed if he didn’t win the British title. He has the ability.’
Watch Ciaran’s fight on the ‘Second Coming’ bill from Dublin’s National Stadium this Saturday, live and exclusive on BoxNation, the Channel of Champions, from 5pm (Sky 437/490HD/Virgin 546/Talk Talk 415 or Livesport.TV). Join at www.boxnation.com
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The WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO world heavyweight title fight between champion Wladimir Klitschko and number one contender Tyson Fury has captured the imagination of the public and is considered one of the standout sporting events of 2015.
Klitschko, the German-based Ukrainian, is unbeaten in over eleven years and has made 18 consecutive defences of the world heavyweight title. Fury, meanwhile, based in Manchester, England, is undefeated in 24 professional fights and has captured English, Irish, British, Commonwealth and European heavyweight titles.
Following his shock defeat to Ryan Toms (14-11-2) on October 2nd, Brighton boxer, Lloyd Ellett (17-1) is looking to bounce back on December 4th at the Camden Centre in London on a Hellraiser Promotions show.
Tasting his first defeat in 18 fights and four years as a pro, the ‘Lightning Bolt’ is looking to get back to winning ways on the first weekend of the festive period.
Former two-time Southern Area champion, Toms upset the odds in Brighton on the opening weekend of October, stopping Ellett in the sixth round of their eight-round scheduled bout at the Metropole Hotel on a Crusader Events show headed by former World title challenger, Scott Welch.
Although leading on the scorecards, the 33-year-old travelling opponent from Middlesex caused the home fighter many problems with his southpaw stance, culminating in landing a big left hand early on in the sixth round, crashing his counterpart to the canvas. Struggling to survive, referee Lee Cook rightfully waved the fight off at 2:48, silencing the biased crowd.
The Queensberry Promotions prospect said, “I just wanna’ get straight back in the ring and erase that memory, it was a horrible feeling because I’ve never lost before, but I feel like I’ve made a few changes and addressed a couple of issues and it’s just made me hungrier than ever, and I’m still heading to where I believe I’m going.”
Despite the minor setback, Ellett is still on track to challenge for major honours next year, beginning with his first fight back from defeat in the festive period, which will provide just his third outing of the year.
The 28-year-old is trained by Eddie Lamm and Alan Smith at the talent-laden iBox Gym in Bromley, Kent, also home to WBO European champions Bradley Skeete and Lewis Pettitt, as well as Southern Area welterweight title-holder Johnny Garton.
A former Haringey Box Cup winner, he enjoyed a busy campaign, winning all 16 of his fights in his first three years punching for pay, signed to London promoter Mickey Helliet.
The Lightning Bolt’s first fight in front of the Box Nation cameras was in March this year at the York Hall in London, earning a hard-fought points win against a far heavier opponent in Latvian Raimonds Sniedze, to move up to an impressive 17-0 record.
“Just being active will make a big difference,” said the Sussex man. “I’ve only just fought so I’m still sharp from the training, I probably overdid the training last time because I was in the gym for so long in between fights.”
Ellett is never short of sparring opportunities with Southern Area super-middleweight champion, Darryl Williams and Prizefighter light-middleweight winner, Larry Ekundayo in his Kent-based gym, as well as mixing it regularly with fellow Sussex boxer, Chris Eubank Jr. in his coastal hometown.
“I had a week off after the fight whereas before that I’d only had one week off in eight months, I’m working on technical sides rather than killing myself out on the roads and sparring all the time.
“I’ve had that kind of pressure for a long time being unbeaten, headlining in Brighton, selling all the tickets, it’s all experience later down the line when the pressure really is on for the big fights,” said the 154-pounder.
Ellett has headlined the Brighton shows four times so far in his four year professional boxing career and plans to kick off 2016 as the main event once again, “I’m definitely going to be on in February in Brighton again,” he confirmed.
Ellett’s unbeaten teammate, Darryl ‘Ferocious’ Williams (12-0), 25-years-old from Forest Hill, will headline the South London show on the first weekend of December, supported by a talent-packed undercard.