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Indian star Vijender Singh defeated Zulpikar Maimaitiali of China by a unanimous decision in a tough 10-round contest in Mumbai on Saturday to retain his WBO Asia Pacific Super Middleweight title and take over his opponent's WBO Oriental Super Middleweight crown.
The Haryana pugilist thus extended his winning streak in the professional arena to nine bouts. It was the first defeat of Zulpikar's professional career.
Known for his ability to knockout opponents, the Uighur boxer from China was undefeated in his previous nine professional bouts. He had won eight of those -- several of them by knockouts -- while one bout was undecided.
Both boxers were slightly tentative in an evenly matched opening round. Zulpikar tried to go on the offensive at the start of the second round but Vijender did well to negate his attacks. The Indian used his superior height to land several punches over the course of the round.
The next couple of rounds were evenly matched as well although the Chinese boxer found it hard to counter Vijender's height advantage.
The Indian used his superior power and height to consistently chip away at his opponent and gradually wear him down.
Zulpikar tried very hard, but found it tough to deal with Vijender's defence and counter-punches.
In his attempt to force the advantage, Zulpikar hit Vijender below the belt on a few occasions, one of which saw the contest being stopped for several seconds in the ninth round.
Zulpikar tried to force the pace in the final round in an attempt to regain lost ground, but Vijender managed to evade his attacks and hold on for the win.
Earlier in the evening, Indians did well in the undercard bouts as well with 2006 Commonwealth Games champion Akhil Kumar, Jitender Kumar, Asad Asif, Kuldeep Dhanda, Dharmender Grewal, Pardeep Kharera winning their respective fights.
Making his professional debut at the age of 36, Akhil Kumar defeated Ty Gilchrist by a technical knockout (TKO) in the Junior Welterweight category after the Australian was deemed unfit to contest further at the end of the second round.
Akhil suffered a nasty cut under his left eye in the early stages of the opening round. But he did not let that affect his performance, fighting with his typical open stance and tried to intimidate his opponent.
Akhil came out all guns blazing in the second round with a flurry of punches, forcing the Australian to retire with an injury.
Jitender, another debutant in the pro circle, also registered a TKO, thrashing Thanet Likhitkamporn of Thailand with a barrage of power-packed punches in the Lightweight category.
The Thai was unable to put up much of a fight which prompted the referee to stop the contest in the second round.
Kharera also registered a TKO, overpowering Wanphichit Siriphana of Thailand in a Welterweight category contest.
It was scheduled to be a six-round bout, but the 21-year-old Indian rained powerful blows on his opponent right from the opening bell and the Thai was forced to leave the ring with an injury after the second round.
World Boxing Council (WBC) Asia Pacific Welterweight champion Neeraj Goyat held onto his title by defeating Allan Tanada of the Philippines in a tough 12-round contest.
Tanada was quite strong technically and held a slight edge in the early rounds. Goyat however, absorbed the early punishment and started to come into his own as the Filipino started to tire a bit.
The Indian grew more confident as the fight progressed, deciding to drop his guard and tease his opponent on several occasions.
The Indian finished in style, ending the last two rounds with a formidable barrage of punches.
Tanada found it tough to deal with Goyat's impressive hand speed and punching power as the Indian dominated the closing stages of the fight.
Earlier, Asif defeated Larry Abbara of the Philippines in the opening fight of the evening before Kuldeep Dhanda defeated fellow Indian Sachin Bhot in the second bout.
India's Dharmender Grewal then beat Isaac Slade of Australia in the Cruiserweight category to cheer up the local crowd.