Vijender Singh has had to unlearn a few tactics from his amateur days in his unbeaten journey to the WBO Asia Pacific title, reveals the Indian boxing star's renowned British trainer Lee Beard who "makes it hard for him in the gym to make him more spiteful and angry in the ring".
Speaking to PTI, Beard, who has worked with the likes of Floyd Mayweather Sr besides being the assistant trainer to former world champion Ricky Hatton, detailed Vijender's rise to the WBO title that was won amid frenzied fans here on Saturday.
"All his amateur experience has been a huge help for him because he has won on some very big occasions - Olympics, World Championships. By the time he turned pro, he had already learnt to deal with pressure. He was smart and skillful even before he came to me. I have only added to his game, made him think differently," Beard said.
"I have tried to make him punch harder and harder and use his jab more. His footwork used to slow him down because as an amateur he used to run around in the ring. The main thing he has unlearnt is the footwork from amateur days with regards to running around the ring. It's no good for a 10-round bout," he added.
Beard, who fondly calls Vijender just V, said another aspect of the Indian's game he has tried to improve is his defence.
"He is more fluent now, there is bit more rhythm. His defence is also so much better now. Now when you see him in the ring, it is not easy to connect to him because he is walking, turning, his defensive jab has improved a lot. His all-round understanding, his patience and control over the fight has improved.
"He can't be reached that easily. I have educated him about energy because in Olympics it is just three rounds so the pace is very fast. But in pro, you have to slow it down a bit.
"When I spoke about energy with him I said 'V, there is a glass of water here, when you drink it the level goes down, imagine that is your energy. So if you are in the fight, and every time you throw a punch, it is like you are drinking and the level will go down. So you have got to be careful that you don't empty it before the final bell'," explained the Manchester-based coach.
Beard said he could see a world champion in Vijender the day he met him first in Manchester last year.
"When I first saw him, it took just 15 minutes for me to gauge that he will win a world title. I looked into his eyes and I saw a fire. Whatever he seems to focus on, he gets it.
Of all the fighters I have trained, he is one of the best when it comes to learning, he is an extremely quick learner," he said.