Once a trailblazer for local pro boxing, 38-year-old will vie for belt for first time next month.
Mohamad Nor Rizan was once a trailblazer in professional boxing in Singapore.
But, as he approaches his 39th birthday later this month, he finds himself trying to make up for lost time.
Rizan, who has a record of eight wins from 10 fights, will be attempting to capture the vacant World Boxing Council (WBC) Asia Continental bantamweight title at the THRIVE 01 event at The Pavilion at Far East Square on Aug 4.
Standing in the Singaporean’s way is 24-year-old Thai fighter Piched Chianawa (seven wins and seven losses).
“This title bout means a lot to me,” said Rizan, who is a physical trainer with Certis Cisco.
“It’s a prestigious belt, and hopefully after winning this title, I can move up and (challenge for) the WBC Asia (title), and then continue from there.
“But I am taking it one step at a time.”
Rizan’s coach, Chouaib Kabbab, believes the age difference between the two fighters will not be an issue.
“The Thai fighter is younger, but Rizan is more technical and tactical,” said the Moroccan.
“Anyway, from my point of view, 39 is still young in boxing. After all, (Evander) Holyfield became a world champion at 45.”
The professional boxing scene in Singapore today is booming.
Local fighters Nurshahidah Roslie (Universal Boxing Organization super featherweight intercontinental title), Rafi Majid (UBO super middleweight Asia Pacific title) and Muhamad Ridhwan (UBO super featherweight world title) all won belts over the past 12 months.
Local promoters also organise boxing events every few months.
NOT AS ROSY
But, back in 2012, things were not as rosy. Rizan, who had turned pro for six years then and was the Republic’s only pro boxer, found opportunities for bigger and better fights hard to come by.
While he fought overseas in Bangkok and Melbourne, and also on the undercard of a WBA world super featherweight title bout at Marina Bay Sands in 2012, he struggled to make consistent progress.
“I decided to call it a day because I had nothing to look forward to,” said Rizan.
But, after watching the growth of the sport over the previous year, Rizan decided to make a comeback last October, and has won both of his fights since returning to the ring.
The 38-year-old says he has no bitterness over the opportunities and success pro boxers who arrived after him have had.
“It’s good that many locals have turned pro,” said Rizan.
“For me, what I went through was the past.
“I hope for the best for (the current boxers) and, if they go on to achieve even more, I feel happy for them, because they are the ones bringing up the scene now.”
Former national amateur boxer Zakaria Ismail will also be making his professional debut at THRIVE 01, and he will also go up against former UFC fighter Will Chope.
Organisers hope the THRIVE Championship can become “a domestic and regional platform for aspiring amateur kickboxing, muay thai, and boxing practitioners to hone their skills and get match experience”.
Its inaugural event, THRIVE 01, will be held on Aug 4 and 5, with the first day focused on boxing with 12 bouts lined up, and the second on muay thai, featuring 14 fights.
Ticketing details will be posted on THRIVE Championship’s Facebook page soon.