Boxing: Ridhwan targets convincing win in front of home fans

Singapore boxer Muhammad Ridhwan (pictured) will face Filipino Jeson Umbal for the International Boxing Organisation intercontinental featherweight title on April 20.
Singapore boxer Muhammad Ridhwan (pictured) will face Filipino Jeson Umbal for the International Boxing Organisation intercontinental featherweight title on April 20.ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

SINGAPORE - He may be ranked nine places below his opponent but Singapore professional boxer Muhamad Ridhwan does not see himself as the underdog when he takes to the ring on Friday (April 20) for the biggest fight of his career.

The featherweight boxer, ranked 58th in the world, will face Filipino Jeson Umbal, 24, for the International Boxing Organisation (IBO) intercontinental featherweight title at the Roar of Singapore IV at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

The winner will earn a shot at the world title in September.

Ridhwan fired the first salvo yesterday, saying that he would beat the 49th-ranked Umbal even if the fight had taken place in his opponent's living room.

"It's great to have home support and to be fighting in front of my fellow Singaporeans," said Ridhwan.

"I don't just want to win, I want to win convincingly. I don't want to win (via decision) and have people say it's because we fought in Singapore. To me, even if we fight in his living room, I would win."

Ridhwan certainly looked the part at the event's press conference at Marina Bay Sands yesterday afternoon. While the other fighters on the panel wore T-shirts, with a jacket draped over at best, the 30-year-old was dressed in a spiffy three-piece tailored suit.

Quoting mixed martial arts superstar Georges St Pierre, Ridhwan said: "If you look good, you feel good. And if you feel good, you do good.

"I wanted to dress the part and enjoy myself today. And I also wanted to look good for people, not just in the ring but out of it as well."

When a question was posed to both him and Umbal about what they thought about each other, Ridhwan quipped: "Ladies first."

Umbal grinned and said through a translator: "Ridhwan is a good fighter, but I'm better."

Ridhwan replied: "Jeson has lost before, five times I think, and he's going to taste defeat again.

"He's got power but is one-dimensional. He'll be tired after four or five rounds and give up."

In an entertaining press conference, fighters in the two other main fights also threw barbs at each other.

After Filipino fighter Michael Dasmarinas said Karim Guerfi would return to France in tears, the Frenchman, who is sixth in the World Boxing Council's bantamweight rankings, got up from his seat and reached for the IBO world bantamweight title they will contest, and said: "I keep this now."

Malaysian "Miracle" Meeraj Khan and New Zealander Chase "Hellboy" Haley also had a go at each other.

The duo have fought twice before, with Haley winning via a mixed decision the first time before a draw in their second.

Said 25-year-old Haley: "I know the way Meeraj fights, his strengths and weaknesses. He says he's going to box me, so that means he will run for 10 rounds again.

"But I'm stronger now , I'll cut the ring and we'll see what happens."

Khan, 27, fired back: "You're a very boring fighter, very one-dimensional. If I win by a weak mixed decision (like in their first fight), I wouldn't be happy. I would use the belt to cover my face.

"On Friday, I'm going to knock you down, not just to the mat, through the ground back to hell - since you call yourself Hellboy."