After a year out of the ring, boxer Syafiq Abdul Samad will make his comeback at the Feb 20 Singapore Fighting Championships (SFC).
The 22-year old took a year off in 2015 to train at a leisurely pace after three consecutive fight cancellations left him deeply frustrated. His impending call-up for national service (NS) also played a part in that decision.
Syafiq, who also goes by the fight name "The Slasher", after he was slashed by a group of gangsters at 14 owing to a case of mistaken identity, said: "I was training really hard for some fights that got cancelled and I was demoralised. Mentally, that was more tiring for me.
"NS also came calling so I decided to take it easy and not fight and just work on improving my game and learning at my own pace."
But after the one-year hiatus, the boxer, who is six months into his enlistment and is posted at Bedok Camp as a technician, is ready to pick up his gloves once more.
At the SFC, which will be held at the Le Danz Ballroom at Queen Street, Syafiq is one of four men bidding to become the first Asia-Pacific light-heavyweight World Boxing Foundation champion.
His rivals for the $1,000 cash prize are Malaysia's Ridzuan Dahari, the Philippines' Richard Corminal and Thailand's Frapayak Muatrunsarakham.
The tournament will follow an elimination format where fighters are required to win their knock-out round bout before proceeding to the final.
Both rounds are held on the same day.
Said Syafiq, a Juggernaut Fight Club member: "I have always dreamt of winning a legitimate title and it is not every day that a Singaporean gets the chance to fight for a championship title. So when the chance came for me to fight, of course I seized the opportunity."
However, his preparations for the fight have been hindered by his NS duties.
"I used to train twice a day, once in the morning, and once in the evening. But now, due to NS commitments, I only get evening sessions in the gym, for five times a week, up to an hour," he said.
"I try to do whatever I can in camp, such as sprints and weights, but it is not enough."
Nonetheless the 22-year old, who holds a 4-1 fight record remains optimistic at his chances of winning the title.
"Come fight day, I will be ready and I think I have a good chance of winning," he said. "Of course everyone has an equally good chance and anyone can win it. But what matters most is who is on form on fight night and I want the title badly.
"I live and breathe fighting and I want to make that belt mine, so I will fight harder than the rest to ensure that it happens."
SEA Games boxers Tay Jia Wei, Leong Jun Hao and Hanurdeen Hamid will also be involved in amateur fights against a Johor state team that same day, as part of the SFC.
This article was first published on February 10, 2016.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.