Boxing: Ridhwan upbeat for biggest test

If Muhamad Ridhwan manages to win his fight against Tanzanian Fadhili Majiha for the UBO world super-featherweight title at the Roar of Singapore II event, he will be the Republic's first world boxing champion.
If Muhamad Ridhwan manages to win his fight against Tanzanian Fadhili Majiha for the UBO world super-featherweight title at the Roar of Singapore II event, he will be the Republic's first world boxing champion.ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

SEA Games medallist ready to go distance against experienced Tanzania boxer to win UBO belt

When he was 17, Muhamad Ridhwan picked up boxing after being inspired by Sylvester Stallone's film Rocky. But he was ready to quit after just three months of training under renowned coach Syed Abdul Kadir.

It was too easy, it was too boring, he thought then.

Speaking to The Straits Times, the 29-year-old national boxer recalled: "Then coach Kadir handed me a fight. So I decided to take it up thinking it'd be easy."

And it turned out that real life was much more difficult than reel life.

He said: "I lost my first amateur fight in the first round. I got hit on the nose and tears came out of my eyes. Coach Kadir threw in the towel and told me not to blame myself. Losing on that day made me take boxing seriously."

Tonight, Ridhwan will compete in the biggest fight of his career as he hopes to become the first Singaporean to win a world boxing title.

The three-time SEA Games bronze medallist, who is unbeaten in seven fights with six knockouts, will face Tanzania's Fadhili Majiha (20 wins, eight losses, four draws) in a Universal Boxing Organisation (UBO) world super-featherweight (58.97kg) bout at Roar of Singapore II at Resorts World Sentosa.

Ridhwan is confident despite having less experience than Majiha. He said: "Boxing is a sport where numbers and statistics do not matter.

"He's (Majiha) very confident. His mentality is that he is going to take me to school tomorrow but I like that it is tough. It means that I can test myself."

Ridhwan's Filipino coach Rey Caitom revealed that his fighter had gone the extra mile during training as fitness will be key in the match, saying: "We prepared for 15 rounds (for 12-round bout) because we know Majiha is a very good boxer. He is defensive and moves a lot, so stamina is important.

"We focused more on the offence and how to hit in a smart way."

Tanzania's World Boxing Association (WBA) Pan African champion Majiha uttered just five words at yesterday's weigh-in: "I will knock Muhamad Ridhwan out."

Instead of trash-talking, Ridhwan preferred to focus on himself, saying: "The significance of this match is increasing the more I think of it but I try my best to take things easy. The belts, winning, or losing is all temporary. The reason why I am doing this is because I want to fight."

Other bouts tonight include the 56kg eliminator match between Danial Jalil and Jason Chua that will decide who will represent Singapore at the SEA Games in August, as well as the main event which features Canadian boxer Ryan Ford defending his UBO world light heavyweight title against New Zealand's Robert Berridge.

But the highlight will be Ridhwan attempting to upstage Majiha.

He may had once thought of giving up but having been inspired by Rocky, he will know that every champion was once a contender who refused to give up.

• Tickets to the Roar of Singapore II event, starting from $40, are available at www.getwaave.com

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 27, 2017, with the headline 'Ridhwan upbeat for biggest test'. Print Edition | Subscribe