Pillow jibes jazz up title bout

Above: Immanuel Paulus, the trainer of Namibian boxer Paulus Ambunda, holding up the pillow gift. Left: Muhamad Ridhwan and veteran Ambunda facing off after the press conference for the Roar of Singapore V: Kings of the Lion City event.
Muhamad Ridhwan and veteran Ambunda facing off after the press conference for the Roar of Singapore V: Kings of the Lion City event.ST PHOTO: JEREMY KWAN
Above: Immanuel Paulus, the trainer of Namibian boxer Paulus Ambunda, holding up the pillow gift. Left: Muhamad Ridhwan and veteran Ambunda facing off after the press conference for the Roar of Singapore V: Kings of the Lion City event.
Above: Immanuel Paulus, the trainer of Namibian boxer Paulus Ambunda, holding up the pillow gift.ST PHOTO: JEREMY KWAN

Ridhwan upbeat as IBO super bantamweight title rival vows to put it to bed with 3rd-rd KO

Singapore's top professional boxer Muhamad Ridhwan got cheeky with a pillow gift, with the words "Sweet Dreams" scrawled on it, for his opponent for the vacant International Boxing Organisation (IBO) super bantamweight (up to 55kg) world title.

A stunned Paulus Ambunda smiled as he accepted it from Glenn Anthony, a member of Team TCW (Ridhwan's nickname is The Chosen Wan) at the end of yesterday morning's press conference for The Roar of Singapore: The Kings of Lion City event at Sands Expo and Convention Centre's Halls E and F on Saturday. The Namibian thanked them for the welcome and the gift, but left it to his trainer to turn it into a pillow fight.

"We are hospitable people, we want to make him as comfortable as possible," said a grinning Ridhwan. "We hope his trainer will bring it to the ring on Saturday night, because he might need it after six rounds."

Trainer Immanuel Paulus took suggestions of a knockout for his man in good spirits but gave as good as he got, saying: "The guy with the pillow, we love you. We might need it for the other corner on fight night.

"But it's a good place to put the belt once we win it, so there'll be no scratches when we bring it back to Namibia."

The pillow stunt was the highlight of an otherwise respectful press conference.

YOU'LL NEED IT MORE

We hope his trainer will bring it to the ring on Saturday because he might need it after six rounds.

MUHAMAD RIDHWAN, Singapore's top professional boxer.

WE'LL PUT IT TO GOOD USE

The guy with the pillow, we love you... But it's a good place to put the belt once we win it, so there'll be no scratches when we bring it back to Namibia.

IMMANUEL PAULUS, former IBO champion Ambunda's trainer.

The 30-year-old Ridhwan said he expected a tough test, a nod to the credentials of Ambunda, a former IBO and World Boxing Organisation (WBO) world champion.

The IBO is considered the biggest organisation outside the traditional big four of the WBO, World Boxing Association, International Boxing Federation, World Boxing Council.

Victory would elevate Ridhwan to the ranks of the likes of current IBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua of Britain.

Former IBO champions include Manny Pacquiao (super lightweight), Floyd Mayweather Jr (welterweight) and Gennady Golovkin (middleweight).

While acknowledging Ambunda's pedigree and skill, Ridhwan added: "History shows that past champions make way for future champions. He's the past, I'm the future, and I will take over."

Ambunda, however, insisted that he would triumph.

"It's only three days to the fight, and that's the same number of rounds for Ridhwan in the ring on Saturday," said the 38-year-old.

"My team and I are not tourists, we are not here for a holiday. I've trained hard for this, and I'm ready."

Scott O'Farrell, the founder of Roar of Singapore organiser Ringstar, said he has sold over 60 per cent of tickets for Saturday's event and expects to sell out the 3,000 capacity venue.

"It's a big jump for Ridhwan, but I really think this guy can take on the best super bantamweights in the world, and beat them," he said.

"You look at the people who have held this (IBO world) title, like (Golovkin), and you know this is a big fight. As a promoter, I want both (Ridhwan and Ambunda) to be at their best, so the fans will be treated to something fantastic."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 26, 2018, with the headline 'Pillow jibes jazz up title bout'. Print Edition | Subscribe