Indian boxing star Vijender Singh will face a different rival for his super middleweight bout on April 1, after his scheduled opponent, China's Zulpikar Maimaitiali, pulled out of the bout on Friday. While Maimaitiali didn't specify reasons for his withdrawal from the fight, Vijender's promoters IOS Boxing Promotions have assured that the event will go ahead as planned on April 1 in Mumbai, with a new opponent to be named for the Indian boxer in the coming days.
The Vijender-Zulpikar super middleweight contest was to be a double Asian title fight. The Indian's WBO Asia-Pacific belt and the Chinese boxer's WBO Oriental title were to be on the line in a winner-takes-all bout.
Vijender's promoters said Zulpikar has refused to specify his reasons for pulling out, merely telling them he would prefer to fight Vijender later in the year.
"I like to take things positively, I am sure Zulpikar has his reasons for not fighting. However, I am ready to fight whoever is my next opponent, my promoters are working towards it and I am sure they will come up with another challenger. I am preparing myself for whoever is willing to fight," Vijender said reacting to the development.
IOS Boxing Promotions' MD Neerav Tomar said the show will go ahead as planned, albeit with a new opponent.
"Zulpikar has refused to fight Vijender Singh, but that does not mean that the fight will not take place, it is likely to happen later in the year. However, bout set to happen on 1st April in Mumbai has not changed. We are talking to other boxers in the same category as Vijender Singh and we will announce the opponent soon," he said.
Vijender is unbeaten in the circuit, having successfully defended his title in December last year against Tanzania's Francis Cheka.
The April 1 fight night will also mark the professional debut of Olympians Akhil Kumar and Jitender Kumar.
(With inputs from PTI)