Ridhwan: My battle is not just in the ring
A little over 18 months ago, local boxer Muhamad Ridhwan told The New Paper in a hole-in-the-wall boxing gym along North Canal Road that he was turning professional.
Yesterday, the 29-year-old sat down with TNP again at the same venue, just three days before his Universal Boxing Organization (UBO) world super featherweight title bout against Tanzanian Fadhili Majiha at the Roar of Singapore II event at Resorts World Sentosa tomorrow night.
It took a long, tough journey for Ridhwan to get his shot.
He stayed in a cramped dorm in Cebu for three months to earn his debut fight in the Philippines in Febuary last year, which did not even pay him enough to break even from the training and travelling costs.
But the three-time SEA Games medallist has rolled with the punches and posted victory after victory since.
He now has a record of seven wins from seven fights, with all but one coming by way of knock-out.
Ridhwan, however, claimed he has no time to dwell on past struggles or triumphs.
"I'm too busy looking forward," said the co-owner of boxing gym Legends Fight Sport, with a laugh.
"I'm always caught up with the next fight, or the fight after that.
"If not, I'm busy training, managing the gym or doing some coaching.
"So I haven't really sat down to reflect on my journey. But one day, I will."
There have been countless obligations to promote tomorrow's fight, which Ridhwan has no qualms fulfilling.
They have been "challenging to manage", admitted Ridhwan but, then again, this is a first world title bout for a Singaporean boxer.
"For me, the battle is not just in the ring," he said.
"Maybe a lot of Singaporeans are not ready to go down and see a boxing fight.
"But if they see it in the news, they might read it because they are curious, and who knows? They might become interested.
"I feel it is my job to put myself out there... It's not about being well-known or what, but about showing boxing is alive and kicking here."
Ridhwan knows he is up for a tough outing.
Majiha (20 wins, eight losses and four draws), 23, is an experienced fighter who has fought on cards alongside world-class names like Manny Pacquiao and Vasyl Lomachenko.
The scheduled face-off between the two boxers at the Spartans Boxing Club along Joo Chiat Road yesterday was called off after Majiha decided to skip the event and rest instead.
Said Ridhwan: "From watching his fights, my trainer Rey (Caitom Jr) and I deduced it is not about having power.
"It takes more than just a hard punch to get this guy down.
"So there's a lot of focus on conditioning - if I could, I would get myself an extra lung for this fight.
"But the plan anyway is to fight every second of every round, throw a lot of punches, keep going forward, cut the ring and don't give him space."
*Tickets to the Roar of Singapore II event, starting from $40, are available at www.getwaave.com.