Cold, dark and wet. Vijender Singh has to push himself out of the bed and like every other day, so badly longs for a ghar ki chai. Another two weeks to go, he tells and wills himself for another round of intense workout and sparring. “This is life of a sportsman. To achieve something you have to sacrifice a lot. Your family, your time at home, everything. It is only after you come out of India that one realises how badly you miss home,” says the Beijing Olympic medalist who is yet to lose a fight since he turned professional last year.This one could easily turn out to be the toughest yet. Vijender, 31, will be defending his WBO Asia Pacific Super Middleweight Champion title on December 17 at the Thyagraj Stadium in Delhi. It is the same venue where the Bhiwani-boxer beat Australia’s Kerry Hope in his maiden pro-bout in his backyard. (Vijender Singh to defend WBO Asia Pacific title vs former world champion Francis Cheka)This time he’ll be facing former world champion and current inter-continental super middleweight champion Francis Cheka from Tanzania. But Vijender thinks, and speaks like a hardened boxing professional: “It is being billed as the toughest test of my professional career but to me it doesn’t make any difference. I am training hard in Manchester, having high intensity sessions and my punches are more powerful than ever before. Singh will be the King once again on December 17,” Vijender tells India Today in that famous Haryanvi dialect of his.advertisementVijender’s seven-on-seven gains credence when you throw in another stat: six have come on knockouts and all this in a total of 27 rounds. On the other hand, the Tanzanian boxer is a veteran of 43 fights with 32 wins, including 17 KO’s and massive experience of 300 rounds.Cheka was the first one off the blocks, so as to say, typically announcing last week. “I am ready to give this kid (Vijender) a lesson of boxing. I will come to India, no turning back, no surrender. I have heard a lot about this Indian boxer and there’s a lot of hype around him, I just can’t wait to be the one to put him in his place.”Vijender does not believe in responding in the same tone. “I will reply to him in the boxing ring. I never uttered bad words for my rivals. I believe if you are good enough then your punches will respond to verbal volleys. Let him say whatever he wants to.” (Vijender Singh to defend WBO Asia Pacific title on December 17)Quite literally, it has been a hard fought journey in professional boxing for the Indian boxer so far. “There was so much criticism of me when I announced that I will turn professional. It was a very difficult time for me. I also knew that my first fight will be an extremely important one. If I will lose then I lose everything. It was an enormous challenge. Everything was new for me in this world, the press conferences before the fights, the face-to-face affair with the rival. Everything. I was learning new things everyday. The diet I had to take, the rest that I needed. It was all different from the amateur boxing world I came from. Yahan bahut maar bhi padti hai (you get a lot of beating in pro boxing)”While on the phone, you hear someone asking Vijender to wrap up the interview. It’s his trainer Lee Beard who tells him it’s time to leave and drive down to the Manchester Arena for a sparring session. “A normal routine here means just training, meditation and listening to Punjabi music. Also, I sleep a lot. I love dreaming. I am eagerly waiting to return home. Yahan bhi thand hai, wahan bhi thand ho jayegi (it is cold here and will be cold in India too in December). The transition will be a lot easier than what I experienced in July when I came to the fight from London to Delhi. It was hot and humid there.”Mid December will be cold in Delhi. But the heat is only going to go up.