Boxing: Rafi is Singapore’s first male professional boxing champion

Rafi Majid connecting with a left hook to put Thai Plaisakda Boonmalert on the ropes. The Singaporean took just 1min 47sec to win the UBO super middleweight Asia-Pacific title.
Rafi Majid connecting with a left hook to put Thai Plaisakda Boonmalert on the ropes. The Singaporean took just 1min 47sec to win the UBO super middleweight Asia-Pacific title.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

At 37, he knocks out Thai rival in under 2min; Nurshahidah, Ridhwan and David also win

Rafi Majid made his professional debut just 10 months ago. And in just his fourth bout since then, he made history by becoming Singapore's first male professional boxing title holder last night.

The 37-year-old Singaporean knocked out Thailand's Plaisakda Boonmalert to win the Universal Boxing Organisation (UBO) super middleweight Asia-Pacific title yesterday at the Roar of Singapore, a new boxing event organised by promoter Ringstar Management.

Rafi was in control right from the opening bell, and took just 1min 47sec to floor his opponent.

Rafi, who trains at Juggernaut Fight Club, said: "I started boxing late, but this shows that it's never too late to start. I am the first Singaporean male champion but I don't want to be the only one."

He admitted that he did not expect that the contest would end so quickly. Rafi, who extended his record to 4-0, said: "What I did was to gauge (his tactics) and I just seized my opportunities and went in whenever I saw there was a gap.

"His face started to change, and I just went in to take advantage of it to knock him down."

Rafi's victory capped a successful night for Singapore, as Nurshahidah Roslie took out Thailand's Ratsadaporn Khiaosopa after 1min 52sec in the second round.

The victory was redemption for Nurshahidah, who was beaten by New Zealand's Gentiane Lupi at the same venue, Singapore Foochow Association, last November.

Nurshahidah said: "It was a tough period of time after my loss, not knowing if I would be able to win when I come back.

"But that all changed one week prior to this fight. I wanted to go in to show that I was meant to do this and I really wanted to do this for myself.

"I felt that today, I finally showed why I'm called 'The Sniper'."

Singapore's Muhamad Ridhwan survived a knock-down in the third round but steadied himself to knock out Indonesian Jason Butar in the fifth round.

Ridhwan said: "It was the first time I had suffered a knock-down when I was hit on my temple. But I wasn't worried. I knew that I could recover, stay calm and knock him out."

His performance impressed Juggernaut's owner Arvind Lalwani, who said at the end of the night that he was ecstatic.

Arvind said: "That comeback was so good. Ridhwan showed that he's got a champion's heart."

The fourth local, Alexandrew David, beat Philipus Rangga of Indonesia by unanimous decision.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 18, 2017, with the headline 'Rafi first male pro champ'. Print Edition | Subscribe