The path to his ambition of becoming a boxing world champion has never been clearer.
All that stands between Muhamad Ridhwan and a shot at the International Boxing Organisation (IBO) world featherweight title is Filipino Jeson Umbal.
The 30-year-old Singaporean faces southpaw Umbal for the vacant IBO intercontinental featherweight title on April 20 in the Roar of Singapore IV – The Night Of Champions event at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
The contest is also a world title eliminator bout, with Roar of Singapore organisers Ringstar stating that the winner will be guaranteed a shot at the currently vacant world title at Ringstar’s next event in September.
Ridhwan, who is undefeated in nine fights (with seven knockouts) and the 59th-ranked super featherweight (up to 59kg) in the world, said he was not getting ahead of himself and was focused on the 23-year-old Umbal.
Other current IBO world champions include world-renowned fighters like Anthony Joshua (heavyweight), Gennady Golovkin (middleweight) and Chris Eubank Jr (super middleweight).
Umbal is ranked eight places higher than Ridhwan, and has a professional record of 16 wins and five losses, with 11 of his victories coming by way of knockout.
Ridhwan said yesterday: “His fans on social media say he’s a stronger fighter and that he’s going to knock me out, and that really motivates me.
“I don’t think he is as good as his supporters say, but we will find out on April 20.”
To prepare, Ridhwan will rope in Filipino A.J. Banal, a 38-fight veteran who fought on the undercard of Floyd Mayweather Jr’s world title win over Oscar de la Hoya in Las Vegas in 2007, as a sparring partner.
Ridhwan might also take part in a six-round fight at the Roar of the Orient event in Fuzhou, China, on March 23, as a tune-up for the Umbal fight.
He said: “Umbal is strong and relies on his power. Not something for me to worry too much though, as it’s not something I have not seen or faced before.
“The ring is a chamber of truth, you cannot lie in there, and I will be prepared for anything.”
Ringstar founder Scott O’ Farrell said it would be a close contest between Ridhwan and Umbal but praised the former. He said: “I have seen his commitment, witnessed some of his struggles, and I know he is hungry for success.” – THE STRAITS TIMES
text MUHAMMAD SAZALI ABDUL AZIZ