Ridhwan on way to the top: Gibbons

Muhamad Ridhwan taking a blow from Paulus Ambunda during their International Boxing Organisation super bantamweight world title bout last September. The Namibian won by a split decision, and the Singaporean will be keen to set the record straight whe
Muhamad Ridhwan taking a blow from Paulus Ambunda during their International Boxing Organisation super bantamweight world title bout last September. The Namibian won by a split decision, and the Singaporean will be keen to set the record straight when they face each other again in July.ST FILE PHOTO

Boxing matchmaker says Singaporean pro boxer has 'all the pieces' for the highest level

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 boxer Muhamad Ridhwan he sees a world champion in the making. The American boxing matchmaker recently added Ridhwan onto the card for the March 23 Rising Stars event in Manila.

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 in 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 bout, he is convinced of Ridhwan's potential.

The 52-year-old told The Straits Times yesterday: "I have watched Ridhwan spar, and I watched a tape of his fight with Paulus (last September, when 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 which will definitely help."

He 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 four major boxing organisations - WBC, IBF, World Boxing Organisation (WBO) and World Boxing Association (WBA).

HE HAS WHAT IT TAKES

I have watched Ridhwan spar, and I watched a tape of his fight with Paulus. That fight shows he has the ability and all the pieces to fight at the highest level.

SEAN GIBBONS, boxing matchmaker, evaluating the progress of Muhamad Ridhwan.

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, 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 was something we handled correctly and in 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."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 07, 2019, with the headline 'Ridhwan on way to the top: Gibbons'. Print Edition | Subscribe