Muhamad Ridhwan 11-0 (8 KOs) vs Paulus Ambunda 26-2 (11 KOs)
29 September, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore
“The Chosen Wan” vs “The Rock”
By Gerald Hartup Jnr
The iconic Marina Bay Sands in Singapore will play host to a bout between local fighter Muhamad Ridhwan and Namibia’s Paulus Ambunda for the IBO Super Bantamweight World title. Last month when the fighters met face to face in Singapore for their media work there were some colourful verbal exchanges between the two men and both were brimming with confidence on their chances of getting the win. 30 year old Ridhwan has youth and home advantage on his side but the 38 year old former world champion Ambunda is confident that his experience will make the difference.
Rock, paper, scissors. How do the styles match up?
Stylistically Ambunda is a fan-friendly and fun boxer to watch. He really brings the action, forces a quick pace and comes to fight. He is a come forward, maximum pressure, high volume fighter who likes to walk his opponent down and get to work on the inside. He brings intensity through constant aggression and has a huge cardio engine. He works behind a solid defence utilising a high guard and is hard to hit cleanly. His work rate is impressive and he has gone the full 12 round championship distance a staggering 13 times. A style like his almost guarantees action in a bout.
The Namibian is a former WBO and IBO world champion and will not be fazed by a big event like this. He had a very successful amateur career and was an Olympian in 2004. He calls himself a warrior and frankly that’s a fair description, he is as tough as they come and has not been stopped in 28 professional fights.
Ridhwan is much more of a skilled and traditional technician. He is a boxer puncher whose best work is when he is operating behind his slick jab. He uses the jab effectively to score, damage, disrupt, control distance, distract and set up attacks. He is a very thoughtful fighter who boxes to a game plan and is often looking to lead his opponent into traps or to counter them. He too was a very successful amateur and has the fundamental skills to show for it. He is more than capable of mixing it on the inside as well, displaying a commitment to working the body throughout his career. His last outing was a win by uppercut KO and he throws a vicious liver shot.
This will be the Yishun boxers first outing at the 122lb Super bantamweight limit. He has fought most of his pro career at 130lb with his last bout at 126lbs. It will be interesting to see how his power and stamina transfer down to this weight category.
Ambunda is not known for his knockout power having only stopped one opponent in the past seven years. Ridhwan is much more of a banger having stopped eight of his eleven opponents and should be the heavier handed man on fight night.
A family affair
In an interesting twist to the fights narrative it has emerged that Ambunda is the cousin of previous Ridhwan opponent Nataneal Sebastian. Sebastian went the full twelve rounds and lost his unbeaten record to TCW on points last year. Ambunda is promising to exact revenge for his younger cousin.
Between a rock and a hard place
As a professional, Ambunda has been there, done it and got the T shirt. A WBO world title win being the peak of his impressive achievements. His two losses were against very respectable high level opponents Moises Flores and Tomoki Kameda both in world championship bouts. He is a boxer who has seen it all.
Ridhwans career is on an upwards trajectory and he is starting to hit his stride in the paid ranks. He has been a professional for less than three years progressing from an exciting prospect to now establishing himself as a serious world contender.
It’s the time of the season
If a boxing career were measured by Seasons in a year, Ridhwan is in early Summer and Ambunda is in late Autumn. Ambunda is a fantastic athlete and a very youthful 38 year old but he is undoubtedly near the end of his career and Father Time will catch up to him at some point. There will not be many more big nights fighting under the bright lights for him and this could be the final chance at glory.
Cebu style. The ALA connection
Ridhwan has been training hard in camp for this bout and along with his coach Rey Caitom Jnr they have been working with some high level sparring partners. The dangerous knockout artist Michael Romarate 11-1-1 (8 KOs) has been working as chief sparring partner and the elite world level contender Arthur Villanueva 32-3 (18 KOs) joined the final part of camp to provide some further tough preparation work.
What do all these men have in common? It is the famed ALA boxing gym in Cebu, Philippines. Cebu isn’t just famous for its beautiful beaches and diving, boxing fans know it for ALA which is an institution that has produced numerous world champions. Ridhwan trained and stayed there when he turned professional. Rey Caitom Jnr was a multi time national amateur champion and undefeated professional boxing out of there. Romarate and Villanueva are also both products of ALA.
High stakes at the Marina Bay Sands
The IBO world title is on the line. This is already a major belt to be competing for but beyond that the implications of this fight are very different for both men.
A win for Ridhwan would propel him into the top 15 in the world and put him in a real position to work towards challenging the best Super bantamweights on the planet. A loss would be a setback and he would have to get on a potentially long and slow road of rebuilding to get back to this level.
A win for Ambunda would mean he gets to extend his story a bit longer at the highest level. Perhaps he could have a couple more glory fights to finish a decorated career. Realistically though, this could be his last chance to have a big fight for a belt. A loss could even mean it is the end of the line on his impressive career as a prizefighter.
And my crystal ball says...
How do I see this fight panning out? The battle will be won and lost by who can dictate the terms of the fight. Ambunda will work to turn it into a real scrap, ideally turning it into a war trading shots on the inside. Ridhwan will want to control the distance and box from the outside getting in and out and inflicting damage from middle distance. Ambunda will take some rounds by virtue of volumetric output, aggression and high workrate while Ridhwan will get off the cleaner, crisper and more damaging shots. I see it going the full twelve rounds. Ambunda with his excellent endurance will be most dangerous in the final third of the fight. Ridhwans stamina will need to be good as he will not be given any time to get a breather. It could well be tricky to score with a classic subjective boxing scoring situation - do the judges reward aggression or finesse? My final call - an entertaining bout where Ridhwan takes it on points, something like 117-111.
Having canned the old "Full Schedule" of Asianboxing we have instead decided to concentrate more on the major bouts. This section, the "Preview" section will look at major bouts involving OPBF and national titles. Hopefully leading to a more informative style for, you the reader.