National boxer Solihin Nordin's South-east Asia (SEA) Games debut in Myanmar 16 months ago was an experience to forget.
In his only bout, a semi-final match against Thailand's Donchai Thathai, the 27-year-old left himself exposed and was floored by one of his opponent's many blows to the head.
Donchai dished out such a thorough beating that the referee had to stop the fight in the first round.
Thanks to the luck of the draw which gave Solihin a direct entry into the semi-finals, he took home an automatic bronze medal for losing semi-finalists.
Now he seems cut out for a better showing when the SEA Games comes to town from June 5 to 16.
Speaking to The New Paper after his victorious semi-final bout at the Sijori Invitational Boxing Championships at the Bedok Sports Hall yesterday, Solihin said: "At the time, I felt I was ready, but my preparation was not the best.
"At the upcoming SEA Games, another medal is of course what I want, but, first and foremost, I want to perform to the best I can.
"I will give my all and, hopefully, that will be good enough."
Since his maiden SEA Games experience, Solihin has been working on gaining more power.
He went up one weight class, from the bantamweight (52.1kg-56kg) to lightweight (56.1-60kg), allowing him to put on more muscle mass and strength.
The physical training instructor at Pulau Tekong has also learnt to be more measured during bouts.
In his 3-0 win over Indonesia's Kristian Cole in the lightweight division yesterday, Solihin remained calm while his opponent went for the jugular from the start and swung wild punches at him.
He caught Cole with a sweet uppercut in the first round, which swung the match firmly in his favour.
Even after getting a nasty-looking cut above his right eyebrow as he was headbutted while he clinched with his opponent, Solihin dominated the rest of the bout to earn victory by a technical knockout.
He will face Malaysian SEA Games representative Al-Nazirul Othman in the final today.
He said: "Going up one weight class has allowed me to gain more strength.
"Also, now I'm better at waiting for a mistake from my opponents and reading them better.
"In today's match, my opponent rushed himself and I felt I could punish him with an uppercut, and it connected."
Singapore Amateur Boxing Association president Syed Abdul Kadir praised his charge.
"Solihin did very well in his fight," said the former SEAP Games gold medallist and 1974 Sportsman of the Year.
"He has improved a lot since the last SEA Games, and I've emphasised to him his need for more power.
"His punching technique, his movement and his ability to keep away from danger have always been good, but he wasn't strong enough in the past.
"Now, he has power too. Hopefully, that can help him gain another medal at the SEA Games."
HOW SINGAPORE'S SEA GAMES BOXERS FARED:
Flyweight (49.1 to 52kg): Hanurdeen Hamid bt Azuwan Mohd Nor (Mal) 2-1
Bantamweight (52.1 to 56kg): Ridhwan Ahmad bt Supriardi (Ina) 3-0
Lightweight (56.1 to 60kg): Solihin Nordin bt Kristian Cole (Ina) TKO
Light-welterweight (60.1 to 64kg): Leong Jun Hao bt Edgar Ang (Sin 'B') 3-0
Welterweight (64.1 to 69kg): Tay Jia Wei bt Harnavin Singh (Sin 'B') 3-0
Middleweight (69.1 to 75kg): Zakaria Ismail bt Jannes Siregar (Ina) 2-1.
This article was first published on Apr 9, 2015.
Get The New Paper for more stories.