London, Oct 5 (IANS) With less than a week left for his professional debut, Indian boxing star Vijender Singh received some much needed motivation as he met his childhood hero multiple world champion Naseem Hamed on the sidelines of the English Premier League (EPL) clash between Arsenal and Manchester United.
Hamed, a former British boxer of Yemeni descent, is a former World Boxing Organisation (WBO), World Boxing Confederation (WBC) and International Boxing Federaion (IBF) champion across several weight categories.
The duo met at the Emirates Stadium here on Sunday as Arsenal demolished United 3-0 to take the second place in the EPL standings.
The British boxing legend believes that Vijender can become just as big as Filipino great Manny Pacquiao.
Vijender, who will kick start his professional career on October 10, asserted that the show of support from the former three-time world champion has come as a major boost for him.
“Naseem Hamed was massive, massive, influence on my career, he was my idol and the reason I got into boxing. He was awesome. Everything about him, the ring entrances, the knockout power, the entertainment, he was a superstar, everybody around the world watched him fight,” Vijender was quoted as saying in a statement.
“So it was a real honour to meet him at the Emirates Stadium face-to-face and have a good chat with him. Of course, he has been on top of the boxing world and the advice he gave was very sound and I took it all in as I’m now starting out on my professional career,” the 29-year-old from Haryana added.
“Manny Pacquiao is a major Asian star and he said there is no reason why I cannot become just as big as him, but first and foremost I’m a boxer and it is what I do in the ring that counts, everything else is secondary.”
Vijender also asserted that India has a bright future in professional boxing.
“Professional boxing is just starting now in India and I believe that in the next few years you will start seeing some very good professional boxers coming through on the world scene,” he remarked.
“I’m very excited for Saturday night, I’ve trained so hard for this and I can’t wait to get in the ring.”