SEA Games: Two Singapore boxers chase rare boxing gold after semi-final wins

SINGAPORE - Singapore will have two boxers going for a first SEA Games boxing gold medal since 1985, as Mohamed Hanurdeen Hamid and Tay Jia Wei came through their respective men's flyweight and welterweight bouts victorious at Singapore Expo Hall 1 on Monday.

Hanurdeen, 21, had the crowd abuzz when he battered Maung Nge of Myanmar in his flyweight semi-final bout, winning by unanimous decision to reach the men's flyweight final.

He will next face Ian Bautista Clark of the Philippines on Wednesday for the gold medal, who ominously sent his Thai opponent crashing to the canvas with a vicious uppercut to win by knockout in round two of the fight.

Jia Wei was also triumphant in his semi-final match by unanimous decision. Roared on by the partisan crowd, opponent Borges Pereira from Timor Leste had no answer to the 20-year-old's aggressive game plan.

Jia Wei will now fight for the men's welterweight title on Wednesday against another Filipino fighter, former junior world champion Eumir Felix Marcial, who edged out three-time SEA Games welterweight champion Apichet Saensit by split decision in his semi-final bout.

Two other local male hopes in Leong Jun Hao and Muhammad Ridhwan failed to emulate their compatriots as they lost their light welterweight and bantamweight matches by unanimous decision to Cambodian and Thai boxers respectively.

Ridhwan was widely expected to make a push for his first boxing gold medal. However, after falling to Thai opponent Tanes Ongjunta this time, the two-time SEA Games bronze medallist will now consider his future in the sport.

"I need to go back and reflect on what went wrong today. As for future competitions, I need to see if I have the hunger to go back in." he said.

Meanwhile, national coach Syed Abdul Kadir was pleased with his team's showings thus far. He hopes the team's current haul of four bronzes and at least two silvers will inspire a revival in the local boxing scene.

jslow@sph.com.sg

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