The training sessions have been coming of well and I’m really looking forward to giving a solid performance in the Asian Boxing Championships given the fact that the event is happening before September’s AIBA World Championship in Doha.
Q You are boxing in the upcoming Asian Boxing Championships in the middleweight category – a weight category where iconic Vijender Singh attained stardom. Do you feel any pressure about delivering like him?
I don’t think on those lines. Vijender is a great boxer and has done so well in this middleweight category for more than ten years, which is a big thing. There is so much to learn from him, but I have done well in different weight categories before. I won the 2010 Asiad gold in the 60kg category and won the 2014 Asian bronze in the 75 kg category. It all about adjusting to the new weight category and training hard and I’m keen to do well.
Q Boxing lovers were excited about a bout between you and Vijender Singh for a middleweight slot in the 2014 Commonwealth as well as the 2014 Asian Games and on both occasions the bout did not take place as both got injured.
I was slated to play Vijender in the trials for the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games but I suffered an eye injury and then again for the Asian Games trials he suffered an injury. I know people in India were looking forward to our bout, but it did not happen due to injuries to both of us.
Q The AIBA World Championship is obviously big event for boxers to make a mark and also holds crucial interest because it doubles as a qualifying event for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
I’m focussing on the AIBA World Championship – I want to win a medal there – I had won a bronze in the 2011 AIBA World Championship. I’m confident about doing well in Doha and making it to the Rio Olympics.
Q Is too early to talk about your Olympic preparations?
I don’t want to think about the Rio Olympics now. The AIBA World Championship is my immediate focus area as winning a medal will help me qualify for the Olympics. I will begin my Olympic preparations only after the AIBA World Championship.
Q How do you look at the new rules put in place by AIBA in terms of no headgear and change in scoring system?
The new rules are tough not just for me but for all boxers across the globe. The new scoring system means boxers would have to be aggressive all the time and cannot afford to remain dormant at times.
Q As a boxer, what do you think are your strengths and weakness?
My coaches tell me my defence is quite strong and I believe I need to work on my attacks, which will make me more lethal in the ring.
Q You were so disappointed with your pre-quarterfinal loss in the 2012 London Olympics that you took a break from boxing for close to two years.
I was feeling dejected at not being to win a medal in the Olympics and my interest for boxing dipped considerably. I took a long break and returned to the ring only last year, where I won a bronze at the Asian Games.
Q The Indian Boxing Council (IBC) is seen as positive augury for boxers. What’s your take?
My belief is that one can enough decent money as amateur boxers. If you do well in major competitions you get handsome cash awards from the government and job, what more you want, so don’t think taking the professional boxing route is as attractive as people are saying.