Singapore boxing star Ridhwan wins on his professional debut
Future bright for Singapore boxer who beats local favourite Roda on points
Last night, over 2,400km away from the Lion City in boxing-mad Philippines, a Singaporean son had his arm raised in victory.
Boxer Ridhwan Ahmad, popularly known as Wan, aced his first professional fight, handing local upstart Melchor Roda his first defeat with a majority points triumph in their fight on the undercard of Pinoy Pride 35, the Philippines' biggest boxing event, in front of 5,000 spectators at the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino.
Roda, 18, had won all three of his previous professional bouts by knockout.
But he found Ridhwan, a former national amateur boxer who won bronze medals at three successive South-east Asia (SEA) Games (2011, 2013, 2015), too wily an opponent.
Speaking after his win yesterday, Ridhwan, 28, told The New Paper: "I did wonder how (Roda's punches with) 8oz gloves (which has less padding than gloves used in amateur boxing) felt like, so I tried absorbing some of his punches in the first round and it felt okay.
"That gave me confidence and, soon after, I got my timing and rhythm down, and managed to execute my game-plan.
"Basically, I wanted to be patient and be accurate, and avoid unnecessary brawls."
The Sugar Ray Leonard fan did just that, winning the four-round fight with a score of 39-37, 38-38, 39-37. The first person he contacted after the fight was his mother, Rogayah Ramli.
"She teared and was so happy, and thanked God," he said.
Ridhwan spent the last two months living in a cramped dorm at the ALA gym (named after Antonio Lopez Aldeguer, a boxing promoter nicknamed the "Godfather of Philippine boxing", who created Pinoy Pride) training for last night's fight.
He brought his weight down from his usual 65kg to 57kg for the fight.
"The crowd was crazy," he said.
"You could tell from the way they cheered the result that they loved boxing and were against "hometown" decisions.
"Their reaction made me feel even prouder that I earned and deserved the win."
The Nanyang Polytechnic graduate might have just opened the door to an even bigger fight in the near future.
If all goes well, he could feature on the undercard of a title defence by Nonito Donaire - a multi-time world champion who was named the world's best boxer in 2012 by ESPN, Sports Illustrated and respected boxing magazine The Ring - in late April.
"Sir ALA (Aldeguer) told me before my match that he might put me on the undercard of a big fight and I heard the headliner is Nonito," he said.
"So I'm leaving my next fight to Aldeguer. I look forward to another chance."
First thing's first, though - a well-deserved treat once he gets home tomorrow night.
Said Ridhwan: "I'll have a nice burger, spend time at home and then it's back to training the boxers at Legends Fight Sport (the gym along North Canal Road that he owns)."
I did wonder how (Roda's punches with) 8oz gloves (which has less padding than gloves used in amateur boxing) felt like, so I tried absorbing some of his punches in the first round and it felt okay.
— Singapore boxer Ridhwan Ahmad