Boxing: Champion Muhamad Ridhwan targets Manny happy returns

Singaporean Muhamad Ridhwan at the open training session ahead of Friday's Roar of Singapore III, which will be headlined by his IBO super featherweight bout against Namibian Nataneal Sebastian. The event will be held at the Suntec Convention Centre.
Singaporean Muhamad Ridhwan at the open training session ahead of Friday's Roar of Singapore III, which will be headlined by his IBO super featherweight bout against Namibian Nataneal Sebastian. The event will be held at the Suntec Convention Centre.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN
Ridhwan with Filipino boxing legend Manny Pacquaio at lunch yesterday. The get-together was organised by Singaporean billionaire and sports philanthropist Peter Lim.
Ridhwan with Filipino boxing legend Manny Pacquiao at lunch yesterday. The get-together was organised by Singaporean billionaire and sports philanthropist Peter Lim.ST PHOTO: MINT MEDIA SPORTS

Undefeated UBO title holder aims to send opponent to the canvas at Roar of S'pore III

Muhamad Ridhwan faces the biggest fight of his career at the Roar of Singapore III on Friday with the International Boxing Organisation (IBO) international super featherweight title up for grabs, but yesterday, there was no doubting he was the clear winner in the sartorial stakes.

While the other seven fighters arrived for the press conference wearing T-shirts or hoodies, Ridhwan came dressed to impress in a grey suit and a crisp white shirt.

"When you want to be a champion, you've got to dress like one," said the Singaporean, whose bout with Namibian Nataneal Sebastian headlines the 10-fight event at the Suntec Convention Centre.

Confidence seemed to ooze from every pore of the three-time SEA Games bronze medallist.

The 29-year-old is undefeated in eight professional fights with seven knockouts. His last fight was in May, when he defeated Tanzanian Fadhili Majiha via technical knockout in the fourth round to claim the Universal Boxing Organisation (UBO) world super featherweight (58.97kg) title.

Three months later, he had a three-week training stint at the Mayweather Boxing Club in Las Vegas where he met big names such as IBO super middleweight champion Chris Eubank Jr.

FIGHTING TALK

On Friday, it's night night (for Sebastian). He's hungry but he has no idea what he's getting himself into... he's going to be fighting against 5,000 Singaporeans.

MUHAMAD RIDHWAN, UBO world super featherweight champ, predicts a swift win.

He said: "The sparring there definitely taught me a lot. Now I'm gonna show what I've learnt and on Friday, it's night night (for Sebastian).

"He's hungry but he has no idea what he's getting himself into. And on Friday, he's going to be fighting against 5,000 Singaporeans."

Ridhwan had originally been scheduled to face Koos Sibiya, but the South African pulled out due to injury last month and was replaced by Sebastian, who has won all nine of his fights with five knockouts.

Scott O'Farrell, chief executive of event promoter Ringstar Management, stressed that both men were well prepared for the title fight.

He also noted that his company is looking to expand next year and stage live shows in China, the Philippines and Malaysia.

"It's a packed schedule but Ringstar's not about putting together fight cards where you can pretty much tell one guy is going to win," O'Farrell added.

"I'm more about putting good matches together, that's the kind of fight card I want and that's how I'm going to sustain (the growth)."

Both Sebastian and Ridhwan held a short open training session prior to the press conference and the former claimed to be unimpressed by what he saw.

"What I saw in the workout, it doesn't bother me at all. I've come here to fight and anything can happen," he said.

Ridhwan, known for his aggressive style in the ring, immediately interjected: "You're going to get knocked out, that's what's going to happen."

He can count on some high-profile support. Ridhwan, who in 2011 received a $10,000 award from the Singapore Olympic Foundation-Peter Lim Scholarship, was invited to join Singaporean billionaire Lim, the Crown Prince of Johor Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim and Filipino boxing legend Manny Pacquiao for lunch yesterday.

Ridhwan said: "I'm very touched that Peter went out of his way to arrange a meeting for me with Manny Pacquiao before my fight for the IBO title.

"Needless to say, the meeting was very special to me."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 18, 2017, with the headline 'Champ Ridhwan targets manny happy returns'. Print Edition | Subscribe