Olympic bronze medallist Vijender Singh said the pulling out of India Fighters franchise from the World Series of Boxing (WSB) is a huge setback for the Indian boxers.

India Fighters, originally named Mumbai Fighters, pulled out of the 2012-13 season of the semi-professional league.

“The Indian franchise pulling out of the WSB will be a huge setback for the country and its boxers. I feel they should not have pulled out. These leagues are good for the sport and its growth. The publicity it gets would have helped the sport to reach many households,” said Vijender.

India Fighters in their debut season last year reached the quarterfinals.

Asked whether he would like to participate in the WSB, Vijender said: “I could not participate last time as I was preparing for the Olympic qualifiers. I would have loved to participate this year, but unfortunately the team has pulled out.”

As the International Boxing Federation (AIBA) is set to come out with its own complete professional series (APB), Vijender feels India will take time to get the feel of pro boxing.

“Professional boxing is not popular in India so it will take time to get popular here. Frankly, there is very little scope for pro boxing in India as all the boxers are amateur,” said Vijender.

“If only we were prepared for pro boxing from childhood, we would have been able to compete in these leagues. All of a sudden, you can’t become a professional boxer.”

More In: Other Sports | Sport