Olympic bronze medallist and middle weight (75kg) top seed Vijender Singh started his campaign in style, beating Kazakhstan’s Azamat Belgibayev to enter the pre-quarterfinals of World Boxing Championships in Milan, Italy on Saturday.
The 23-year-old world number two, who was conferred the Khel Ratna award last month, defeated his rival 14-8. Vijender will take on Canadian Steve Rolls, who got the better of local favourite Luca Podda, on September 8.
The Haryana-boxer, who got a bye in the first round, was on the backfoot to start with and was trailing 0-3 in the first round but staged a remarkable comeback in the next two rounds.
He made it 9-8 in the second round before blanking his rival in the final round to finish 14-8.
“I am relieved and very happy. It’s great to start off with a win,” Vijender said.
National coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu lauded Vijender for changing his strategy well after the initial setback.
“Vijender started with counter-punching but Azamat managed to get three points with some rather soft touches. Then Vijender changed his strategy and became more aggressive,” Sandhu said.