Vijender Singh vs Kerry Hope, Pro Boxing title bout: No real Hope for a big upset

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Weigh-ins in professional boxing follow a standard routine. Wearing just their skivvies, the fighters stand on weighing machines while the announcer declares with practised deliberation whether they have made the agreed weight. When the two have finished this drill they stand a few inches apart and glare eyeball to eyeball at each other in a staredown. This is followed by a bit of trash talking as each tries to convince the audience how they are going to destroy the other opponent.
If the routine is time honoured, it is because it works. It’s always been a lot easier to sell tickets when an audience thinks there is actually a contest involved, the fighters hate each other and there is something at stake. So there was little surprise that the weigh-in on the eve of Vijender Singh’s bout with Kerry Hope for the WBO Asia Pacific Super Middleweight belt at the Thyagaraj Stadium followed this trope. So while they would undoubtedly be thrilled by the fact that the overwhelming feeling at the weigh-in was that Vijender’s victory over Hope was a certainty, the Indian’s promoters tried belatedly to make it seem that the contest was a lot closer than it was being made out to be.
The assorted Bollywood stars and starlets expected to be present ringside on fight night would likely understand. Suspension of disbelief is a must if you want to appreciate the standard Bollywood potboiler. The audience knows the hero is going to be victorious in the end of the movie but a good script convinces them to believe the protagonist faces true danger and impossible odds that would stop him from accomplishing said victory. The bout – which the organisers have sold as the biggest pro boxing event to be held in India – is one in which Vijender has a real fight on his hands, his promoters insist. “Kerry isn’t just here to make numbers. He is a good fighter and he will be trying to win the belt himself,” cautioned Francis Warren, CEO of Queensberry Promotions, which manages the Indian. When during a photo opportunity, Vijender tried to grab at the oversized bejeweled regional WBO title belt, his promoter Neerav Tomar jerked it away while saying “you have to win it first,” with a smile.

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