Former world champion L Sarita Devi will make her professional debut against Zsofia Bedo of Hungary in the Indian Boxing Council’s January 29 fight night to be held in her home town of Imphal.
Sarita, who is also an Asian Games bronze-medallist besides being a multiple-time Asian champion, will become the first ever female boxer from India to step into the world of professional boxing at the Khuman Lampak Sports Complex indoor arena. Sarita be up against seasoned pro Zsofia Bedo of Hungary, who is a veteran of 59 professional bouts. The 29-year-old Hungarian has to her credit 19 wins.
The 31-year-old Sarita is honing her skills under the tutelage of American coach Joe Clough. The 73-year-old Clough has coached Evander Holyfield besides being a member of the Mohammad Ali’s coaching team.
“I am training hard and I am going to fight harder,” says Sarita. “Turning professional is not just about winning or losing a couple of bouts. The most important decision of my career is also a mission for me. I didn’t want to start against any average opponent. I am entering the professional circuit quite late in my career. I will have to make longer strides to achieve my goals. The stronger the opponent, the better are the chances to improve my pro rankings,” says the Manipur boxer.
Sarita is excited that her hometown will be the venue for the most important date of her career. “Manipur is the land of warriors. We people love combat sports. Boxing lovers are going to turn up for my bout in big numbers. That’s going to be the biggest day of my career for the simple reason that I have never had an opportunity to contest such a big bout in front of my home crowd. There is going to be an extra pressure. But, that also pumps up the adrenalin,” she said.
Indian Boxing Council president, Brig PK Muralidharan Raja, said the Sarita-Zsofia bout will usher a new era for Indian boxing. “Sarita’s presence in Imphal is going to draw a good crowd support. We also plan to create a ‘box park’ outside the arena where the fans are expected to turn up in big numbers to watch live action on giant screens to get the in-stadia-like feel,” he said.
The 29-year-old Zsofia has never contested a bout in Asia before. She had started her professional career at a young age of 19 and in a career spanning 283 rounds, she has garnered 19 victories.
Zsofia is the No. 1 Hungarian professional boxer in the lightweight category.