Boxing: Muhamad Ridhwan has the potential to be a world champ by 2020, says leading matchmaker Sean Gibbons

Singapore's top professional boxer Muhamad Ridhwan is deemed a world champion in the making, according to American boxing matchmaker Sean Gibbons.
Singapore's top professional boxer Muhamad Ridhwan is deemed a world champion in the making, according to American boxing matchmaker Sean Gibbons.PHOTO: ST FILE

Postponed big fight against Namibian Paulus Ambunda set for July 19

He has brokered fights for the likes of Floyd Mayweather Jr and "Prince" Naseem Hameed, and helped stage shows at glitzy venues like the MGM Grand and Mandalay Bay Casino in Las Vegas.

Sean Gibbons has seen it all in the boxing world, and in Singapore's top professional boxer Muhamad Ridhwan he sees a world champion in the making.

The American boxing matchmaker recently added Ridhwan onto the card for the Rising Stars event in Manila on March 23.

The 31-year-old Ridhwan's big fight, a World Boxing Council (WBC) silver featherweight title bout with Namibian Paulus Ambunda, was postponed last month and is now pencilled for July 19.

And while Gibbons says the Singaporean's fight against Filipino Cris Leon (11 wins, 18 losses, five draws) on March 23 is simply a "stay-busy" fight before the July fight, he is convinced of Ridhwan's potential.

The 52-year-old told The Straits Times on Wednesday (March 6): "I have watched Ridhwan spar, and I watched a tape of his fight with Paulus (last September, which Ridhwan lost via split decision). That fight shows he has the ability and all the pieces to fight at the highest level.

"I just think he needed a little more seasoning to be a little bit more prepared, and now he has trained with world-class boxers will definitely help."

 
 
 

Gibbons was referring to the two-month stint Ridhwan had in Manila with International Boxing Federation (IBF) world super flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas.

He added that Ridhwan's relatively modest record of 11 wins and one loss would not be a barrier to earning a shot at the world title of one of the world's four major boxing organisations - WBC, IBF, World Boxing Organisation (WBO) and World Boxing Association (WBA).

Gibbons said Ridhwan would provide a reasonable challenge for the likes of WBA world featherweight champion Xu Can of China, or WBO world featherweight champion Oscar Valdez of Mexico.

"The goal is to bring him to a (major) world title or eliminator fight this year, or the very latest before the end of next year," he added.

While grateful for the praise, Ridhwan insisted he would not let it get to his head.

"It's good to be recognised but my head is still clear with what I need to achieve first, before I can think of fighting for big titles or in places like the United States," he said.

"None of those plans will matter if I don't win (against Leon) first."

He added he was pleased the "dust has settled" for his bout against Ambunda. The original fight was canned by fight promoters Ringstar eight weeks before its original March 29 date.

Ringstar CEO Scott O' Farrell, who is co-promoting the Rising Stars event with Manny Pacquiao's MP Promotions, says he is firmly focused on delivering the show in July.

Said the Briton: "We never had any issues, it's just the timing that was wrong and that's was something we handled correctly and with the best interest of the fighters, sponsors and partners.

"Huge things are happening and I am very excited to be a major part of this sport's growth in Asia alongside the legend Manny Pacquiao and his team."