THE odds were heavily stacked against Malaysia in boxing.
But one small man – with a big punch – stole the thunder at the Malaysian International Trade and Exhibition Centre (MiTEC).
Muhamed Fuad Redzuan delivered Malaysia’s first SEA Games boxing gold medal in 12 years when he outpunched Thailand’s Thani Narinram to win by unanimous points decision (5-0) in the light flyweight (49kg) final yesterday.
Malaysia’s last success in the ring came at Laos 2009 when Mohd Farkhan Haron and Mohd Fairuz Azwan contributed a gold each.
The 26-year-old Fuad, who has only one bronze medal to show in his 12-year boxing career, thanked God for finally winning the gold medal di bumi yang bertuah ini (home soil).
“This is my rezeki to win it at home. This special moment makes up for all the failures and frustrations,” said a jubilant Redzuan.
The hall was packed and the atmosphere was electrifying.
When Redzuan got into the ring, he mesmerised the crowd with his aggression and hard-hitting punches as he troubled Thani throughout the bout.
Former national boxer Mirage Khan, who has turned pro, was also present to lend support to the Malaysian camp.
“Both fighters have good techniques but I could see that Fuad was more determined to win.
“He won all three rounds hands down,” said Mirage.
Fuad said he owed his success to coach Azmi Yunus, who has trained him all this while.
“I would have been a nobody without his guidance,” he said.
Malaysia’s hopes of a second gold medal fizzled out when Adli Hafidz Pauzi found himself no match to the more experienced Marvin John Nobel Tupas of the Philippines in the light-heavyweight (81kg) final.
Adli lasted just 21 seconds when referee stopped the contest (RSC-1).
He admitted that he lacked experience and that he was caught off guard when the Filipino charged at him when the buzzer sounded.
Within seconds it was all over and Adli had to settle for the silver.
Malaysia’s other medal came from Indran Rama Krishnan – a bronze – in the middleweight (75kg) event.
At the Singapore Games in 2015, the national pugilists returned home empty-handed.