Sim Lim square off: Sylvester and Steven to fight
Former Singapore Idol runner-up Sylvester Sim and entertainer Steven Lim to fight at inaugural Asia Fighting Championship
In one corner stands a man who stripped down to his yellow briefs on the first season of Singapore Idol in 2004.
And in the other, the reality TV singing competition's eventual runner-up.
Come Sept 23 at Marina Bay Sands, the inaugural Asia Fighting Championship's live celebrity bout will see attention-seeking entertainer Steven Lim squaring off against singer Sylvester Sim.
Aimed at promoting the art of Thai boxing, the event brings together the best muay thai fighters in the region - from local rising star Brandon Ng to South Korea's Seung Bum Woo and Yoon Deok Jae and Malaysia's Muhammad Ali Yaakub - for action-filled bouts.
Speaking to The New Paper at Muse Fitness Club, 34-year-old Sim insisted their showdown is no publicity stunt.
He said: "Steven Lim is a joke; I am not. This is going to be a serious fight, and I am heading into the ring to fulfil the dream (to fight in the ring).
"Steven is one of the most hated public figures in Singapore, and people want to see me beat the s*** out of him, so I thought he would make a good opponent."
These days, the former Idol rocker runs his own artist management company, but keeping fit has always been a priority.
He said: "I was born with asthma and it has affected me ever since I was a child, so I am health-conscious. I am still on my inhaler.
“Steven Lim is a joke; I am not.”Singapore idol runner-up Sylvester Sim on his opponent
"When I was six or seven, my dad had to piggyback me to the hospital at night because I had shortness of breath."
To combat his condition, Sim runs or swims six or seven times a week, and has grown to love it.
For the fight, he has kept the routine, with a day set aside for training by lifting weights.
Asia Fighting Championship 2017
Sept 23, 7pm to 11.30pm
Sands Expo and Convention Centre, Marina Bay Sands, Hall A
$95 to $137 (inclusive of booking fee) from Sistic (www. sistic.com.sg or 6348-5555)
He is no stranger to martial arts, having trained in jeet kune do from 13.
Sim, who has gone from 55kg to 62kg since his Idol days, said: "I did whatever I wanted when I was young. I have been in many fights. Head bleeds, nose bleeds, torn uniforms, you name it, I have experienced it.
"I remember once, I had six to seven people chasing me in Bukit Batok. I managed to run away after picking a fight with one of them."
While real-life scraps may give Sim an advantage, he will not overlook the threat Lim brings to the table.
He said: "I cannot underestimate him. He may act like he is crazy now, but what if he is different in the ring?"
Lim is not taking it easy either, saying he is at the gym four or five days a week, with three days on the heavy bag to practise kicking and punching.
He subscribes to an unusual "high carbohydrate" diet - "a lot of rice and bread, and a bit of protein" - to get bigger and stronger, and has gone from 78kg to 87kg.
While munching on caramel meringues, Lim told TNP: "I started exercising again because of this match... this is a good chance for Steven Lim Kor Kor to shine again."I have a beast in me and people will definitely be shocked."