Sometimes, to get the better of your opponent, you have to get inside his head. Top local professional boxer Muhamad Ridhwan tried to do just that on Tuesday morning, at the press conference ahead of the Roar of Singapore: The Kings of Lion City.
The 30-year-old will face Namibia’s Paulus Ambunda for the vacant International Boxing Organisation (IBO) super bantamweight (up to 55kg) world title, on fight night on Saturday at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre’s Halls E and F.
As the press conference drew to a close, a member of the audience – identified as Glenn Anthony, a member of Ridhwan’s entourage – got on the microphone and welcomed Ambunda to Singapore.
He then stepped forward and handed a “gift” to Ambunda – a pillow with the words “Sweet Dreams” scrawled on it, and signed off by Team TCW after the initials of Ridhwan’s nickname, The Chosen Wan.
Stunned, Ambunda could only smile and thank Anthony and Ridhwan for their present.
“We are hospitable people, we want to make him as comfortable as possible,” explained a grinning Ridhwan. “So we hope the coach will bring it to the ring on Saturday night, because he might need it after six rounds.”
Ambunda’s team took the gesture in good spirits. His trainer, Immanuel Paulus, said: “The guy with the pillow, we love you. We might need it for the other corner on fight night.
“But it’s a good place to put the belt once we win it, so there’ll be no scratches when we bring it back to Namibia.”
The pillow stunt was the highlight of an otherwise respectful press conference.
Ridhwan noted the credentials of his opponent – Ambunda is a former IBO and World Boxing Organisation (WBO) world champion – and said he expected a tough test on Saturday.
The IBO is considered the biggest organisation in boxing outside the traditional big four of the WBO, World Boxing Association, International Boxing Federation, World Boxing Council.
Winning the world title would rank Ridhwan’s next to the likes of current IBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua of Britain. Former IBO world champions include Manny Pacquiao (super lightweight), Floyd Mayweather Jr (welterweight) and Gennady Golovkin (middleweight).
While acknowledging Ambunda’s pedigree and skill, Ridhwan added: “History shows that past champions make way for future champions.
“He’s the past, I’m the future, and I will take over.”
Ambunda however, insisted that he would triumph.
“It’s only three days to the fight, and that’s the same number of rounds for Ridhwan in the ring on Saturday,” said the 38-year-old. “My team and I are not tourists, we are not here for a holiday. I’ve trained hard for this, and I’m ready.”
Scott O’Farrell, the founder of Roar of Singapore organiser Ringstar, said he has sold over 60 per cent of tickets for Saturday’s events and expects to sell out the 3,000 capacity venue.
“It’s a big jump for Ridhwan, but I really think this guy can take on the best super bantamweights in the world, and beat them,” he said.
“You look at the people who have held this (IBO world) title, like (Golovkin), and you know this is a big fight.
“As a promoter, I want both (Ridhwan and Ambunda) to be at their best, so the fans are treated to something fantastic.”