By Jake Donovan
The long-awaited pro debut of Vijender Singh was a smash hit Saturday evening at Manchester Arena in Manchester, England. The most successful amateur boxer ever to come out of India scored a 3rd round knockout of Sonny Whiting in his firsr pro start, priming a rabid crowd on hand for a pair of title fights later in the evening.
Topping the show, Manchester's own Terry Flanagan puts his unbeaten record and lightweight title on the line versus Diego Magdaleno. In the evening's co-feature, Liam Smith and John Thompson vie for a vacant super welterweight belt.
Amidst a loaded undercard, Singh managed to - well, sing with his performance.
The 2008 Olympic bronze medalist - who also enjoyed his fame to venture into modeling, acting and Bollywood - made an easy transition to the pro ranks. A dedicated body attack slowly broke down Whiting, paving the way for overhand rights that produced the most damage.
Following two rounds of building a foundation, Singh went into attack mode in round three. An accumulation of power punches had Whiting ready to wilt, with a final four-punch combination prompting a referee stoppage.
The official time was 2:08 of round three.
“That was a great start to my career and I could of hoped for it to go any better,” noted Singh (1-0, 1KO), whose massive popularity was estimated to draw in 20 million viewers back home on Sony Six in India, in addition to viewers tuning in on BoxNation in the United Kingdom. “There was a lot of pressure on me with all of India watching me live on TV so I knew that I had to win so I just went for it and the result came.”
The early ending allowed Singh to reserve his strength for a quick turnaround, as his second pro fight is penciled in for October 30 at Harrows Sports Centre in NW London.
“That was a fantastic performance by Vijender in his debut and there is much more to come from him as he develops,” observed Frank Warren, Singh's promoter. “It backs what I’ve said all along in that we have a real star on our hands and with 20 million people watching in India that can’t of failed to excite.
“Now all the hype around his debut has settled down he can develop at his own pace and I think we’ll see even more from him in Harrow on 30th October.”
Despite the lofty praise going into the evening and following his performance, Singh will do his part to make sure his feet continue to touch the ground.
“This is just the beginning for me so I’m not getting carried away. I’ve got so much to learn in the professionals and there is a long way to yet,” Singh admits.
Jack Catteral managed a 10-round shutout over Finland's Jarkko Putkonen in an uneventful fight between unbeaten super lightweights.
Scores were 100-90 (three times) for Catteral (13-0, 8KOs), whose sluggish yet effective performance supports pre-fight claims of having struggled to make weight. The Brit spent time in Floyd Mayweather Jr's training camp in preparation for this bout.
Putknonen (12-1, 6KOs) suffers his first career loss, which coincides with his first pro fight outside of Finland.
Luke Blackledge was pushed to the brink in barely edging Lee Markham (14-3-1, 7KOs) over 12 rounds. Scores were 116-113, 116-114 and 115-114 in a feverish nip-and-tuck affair between British super middleweights. Blackledge (20-2-2, 6KOs) has now scored six straight wins.
Adrian Gonzalez (12-1) demolished Jon Kays (21-5-1) with four knockdowns before the fight was waved off in the fourth round of the contest. Gonzalez picks up the vacant WBO Inter-Continental super lightweight world championship.
Tom Stalker (10-1-2) and Craig Evenas (14-1-1) fought to a controversial ten round split draw. The scores were 97-93 Stalker, 96-94 Evans and 95-95. Most ringside press had Stalker pegged as the clear winner. The vacant WBO European world title was at stake and now remains without an owner.
Ryan Burnett (11-0) scored a second round knockout over Robert Kanalas (10-5) to capture the vacant WBO European banatmweight world championship.
Jake Donovan is the managing editor of BoxingScene.com.
Facebook Page: JakeBScene