By Marcus Bellinger (@marcusknockout)
In September Indian boxer Vikas Krishan announced he would be turning professional and late last week it was officially confirmed that he had signed with US outfit Top Rank and would be making his debut on January 18 2019 at the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York. The 26-year-old southpaw will be trained by Wali Moses, the grandfather of unbeaten Shakur Stevenson.
A 3-time national champion at lightweight, welterweight and middleweight, a 2-time Olympian, a 2018 Commonwealth gold Medallist, a 2011 world championship Bronze medallist and a double Asian Championship medallist, Krishan’s amateur achievements speak for themselves and he also reached the podium at the last 3 Asian Games. Krishan can coast at times during fights, but he is an excellent and vicious body puncher and likes to use uppercuts and he certainly possesses enough traits to have a successful pro career.
Top Rank and especially Bob Arum have always been way ahead of the game in exploring and attempting to open up new markets and embracing the globalisation of boxing. Of course we saw Top Ranks venture into China with double Olympic gold Medallist Zou Shiming heading the charge and big cards in Macao featuring the likes of Manny Pacquiao. People will correctly point out that Shiming’s professional career was a bit of a busted flush but winning a world title was a good achievement given his limitations and hopefully he can inspire the next generation of boxers from his country.
Many may compare China and India but there are major differences between the 2 countries boxing and sporting cultures. Whilst India doesn’t have the infrastructure such as professional gyms and coaches compared to China, their amateur system is churning out so much more talent and the results have shown that in the last couple of years at senior, youth and junior level in both men’s and women’s boxing. India also generates an atmosphere at sporting events that is unrivalled anywhere in the world and given the mind boggling sums paid for IPL and Indian home cricket rites, if boxing can generate just a fraction of that interest then the sky’s the limit.
Vijender Singh has been an important cog in putting the key in the lock to try to swing the door wide open for Indian professional boxing and he has now signed a multi-year agreement with Top Rank and will make his US debut sometime in early 2019. With his last bout coming last December and a proposed July Commonwealth title fight being cancelled, Singh’s career had ground to a halt but hopefully this new deal can breathe new life into it.
With his notable profile and popularity and his last 4 contests all taking place in India and being broadcast on either Star Sports and Sony, a potential clash with WBO super middleweight champion Gilberto Ramirez would be a truly historic event. If Top Rank can secure a long term deal with either of the previously mentioned TV channels to broadcast Krishan and Singh’s fights then not only does that give them a chance to build professional boxing in India but it also potentially opens up the biggest untapped market on the planet for the rest of their fighters.
Lastly, another intriguing intangible is the ongoing saga between AIBA and the IOC which has left boxing’s place at the Tokyo Olympics hanging by a thread. If boxing is ditched and a rival body isn’t established to cobble together an Olympic tournament then with no real professional scene to speak of, the Indian amateurs could be in limbo but with Top Rank now showing interest, this could be a much needed gateway for the nations numerous talented pugilists to pursue.
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