By Gerald Hartup Jnr
The Singapore fight scene is heating up. Fight fans will have been excited to learn that the World Boxing Association upgraded the upcoming Ridhwan vs Sabu fight to the status of a WBA Asia Super Featherweight title bout. This means the fifth instalment of Singapore Fighting Championships will have a regional belt from a major sanctioning body up for grabs and this is a mouth-watering prospect.
This presents local boxer Muhamad Ridhwan a huge opportunity to win some Asian honours and propel himself up the 130lb rankings. Standing in his way and looking to take the belt for himself will be Waldo Sabu of Indonesia. Let’s take a look at the two combatants.
Waldo Sabu 12-6 (2 KOs)
27 year old Sabu is the more experienced of the two fighters in the paid ranks. He has been a pro for six years and he has a big 139 rounds of action from his 18 fights. An average duration of 7.7 rounds per fight and the fact that he has gone a full 12 rounds means he brings some meaningful conditioning, durability and experience to the ring.
Fighting out of a southpaw stance, he is currently ranked the best featherweight in Indonesia. Sabu started his career at super flyweight and gradually moved up the weight categories. He campaigned through last year at super-bantam and feather and this is his first step up to super feather. A lack of KOs to his name whilst fighting at the lower weights raises a question mark about his power, particularly at this higher class.
He is no stranger to fights like this and will be hoping it is third time lucky having lost in previous challenges for WBO Asia Pacific and PABA title glory. He has already gained experience abroad by fighting twice in Bangkok and once each in Manila and Tokyo. He carries a five fight win streak coming into this fight.
Muhamad Ridhwan 6-0 (5 KOs)
Ridhwan has been a professional for just over a year now and is progressing nicely. He is in great shape having kept a busy schedule fighting actively with a bout close to every two months. Despite having less professional contests than his upcoming opponent, he has a seasoned amateur pedigree to draw experience from which includes three bronze medals for Singapore in SEA games.
This will be The Chosen Wans first professional bout against a southpaw which poses an intriguing test. Southpaws are known as being very tricky and few orthodox fighters enjoy fighting against them. The angles, distance, footwork and timing challenges will be very different in this fight.
The bout is scheduled for 10 rounds and this will be the 29 year olds first test over such distance. He hasn’t gone beyond the fifth round before so anything deeper than that would be fresh territory.
The local boxer should possess the power advantage. With five stoppages in a row including some highlight-reel knockouts, his power and heavy hands are apparent for all to see.
Home advantage is another factor in favour of the Yishun pugilist. He is a well-known and popular figure in Singapore and will have a vocal support roaring him on. Also this will be his third fight in a row at the Foo Chow so he is fully familiar and at home in the venue.
Both fighters share a common prior opponent in Jason Butar-Butar. Sabu outpointed him over 10 rounds in November and Ridhwan stopped him in the 5th in an epic encounter in February (fight report here).
Save the date – April 8th – See you at the Foo Chow
Ridhwan has been putting in the hard work in preparation for the contest. He had the following to say when I caught up with him.
“We are training really hard. We don’t train just enough to run around the ring and play it safe, we train to fight every second of every round.”
“I have come to learn that with every fight and every win, the fighters I face will only get tougher. This is a good test for me and I plan on passing it.”
“Winning the WBA Asia title belt will be a huge breakthrough for Singapore’s boxing scene. It isn’t the ultimate goal but I understand its importance. I am willing to destroy myself in training so I can defeat my opponent in the fight to win and keep the belt here.”
There are no one minute rests in between rounds for this hungry challenger. “My favourite part of training? The 30 seconds rest in between rounds!”
Overseeing Ridhwan’s training camp is coach Rey Caitom Jnr. Heralding from the Philippines, Rey started his amateur boxing career at the famous ALA boxing gym in Cebu. He was a highly decorated amateur star with over 200 fights to his name. As a pro he went undefeated with seven professional bouts in the Philippines.
On the approach, Rey had the following to share. “We work hard. We work smart. We have a strategy. We never rush for the knockout but if the opportunity is there, we’ll take it.”
Rey on the upcoming test against the southpaw opponent. “Every fight has a purpose. There is always something to learn from every fight.”
The fight will be the main event of SFC5. Previous SFC events have been a big success full of competitive and enjoyable Boxing/MMA/Kickboxing bouts. Arvind Lalwani is the promoter running the franchise and he continues to deliver exciting shows and a great platform for local fighters to showcase their skills.
Also featuring on the card will be local professional boxers Rafi Majid 4-0 (4KOs), Nurshahidah Roslie 5-1 (3KOs) and Alexandrew David 2-0 (1KO).
A sold out arena, loud atmosphere and a passionate crowd is expected. Buy your tickets in advance to avoid disappointment.