DAT NGUYEN TALKS BOXING COMEBACK
HCMC Vietnam Dec 27, 2019
The greatest professional boxer that Vietnam has ever produced has rekindled talks of making a comeback to the sport that he departed from almost 3 years ago.
HCMC born Dat Nguyen had charted an unusual path in fight sports and boxing that reached a crescendo in February 2017 when he took on unbeaten Mexican Miguel Flores. In a match that promised a world title opportunity if he was successful, the Viet star was regarded as an unlikely longshot. Despite the fact that few gave Dat Nguyen any chance, he not only won, but destroyed his highly regarded opponent by way of knockout.
But instead of fighting for a world title, this amazing win ended Dat Nguyen's career. He became the bogey man and giant killer that nobody wanted to face!
Nguyen won his first 11 gloved fights between 2004 and 2007, then reeled off six more W’s following a split-decision loss to Gregorio Torres. He said recurring issues with managers and promoters preceded consecutive decision losses to unbeaten foes Luis Del Valle and Jayson Velez in 2011 and 2013, respectively, leading to prolonged bouts of inactivity. Last moment calls from promoters like Top Rank and Golden Boy became the norm, he said, but the phone stopped ringing following the sixth-round stoppage of a then-unbeaten Flores – who’s reportedly lined up to face Leo Santa Cruz for a title belt at 130 pounds the next month.
“Everyone was expecting me to come in to lose the Miguel Flores fight but I had a different mindset,” Nguyen said. “I had a different mindset – ‘I cannot come in to lose. I have to win this fight’ – so I was very focused and I trained very hard and everything changed up. After that fight I just couldn’t get another fight.
Dat became disillusioned with the sport, and decided to open a boxing gym and a restaurant in Miami Florida. He is now 37.
"I have followed what has been happening in Vietnam and it is great to see that they are going crazy for boxing. There was an event in Hanoi this year where 30,000 people turned up to watch and the talent was amazing. I know there are a lot of great fighters there, so it won't be long before the world knows it too. Even though I haven't fought in almost 3 years, I have stayed in shape and I am definitely a smarter fighter than when I was younger. My defence is a lot better than when I first started. I really do believe that given the chance, I can still beat the best in the world. What is happening in boxing in Vietnam right now is so exciting, It's making me have thoughts of a comeback.
Haha - It's crazy, but if I did, I'd love to have my coming out party in HCMC Vietnam!"
Victory 8: Welcome to Vietnam show will feature top professional fighters from around the globe to challenge Vietnam’s best. The event will be held in HCMC Vietnam on Friday March 29, and will be televised live to a local audience of more than 10 million people.
Six epic battles! Vietnam versus the world! Will they have what it takes to achieve victory?
Ben “the juicer” McCulloch – commentator and former world rated fighter gives his thoughts:
Fight 1 57kg Ariel Puton v Cao Van Nguyen undercard 4 rounds
Ariel Puton (Philippines) - pro boxer 5 fights 5 wins 4 by stoppage. They call him the Sleep Doctor and that’s looking apt from where I sit! This kid is young and has very heavy hands. He is an unbeaten pro against mediocre opposition. No doubt he is good, but I also have no doubt that Cao Van Nguyen is his best opponent to date. Similar to Jino Rodrigo, he likes to set up power shots and has a heavy right hand. He is trained by ex Wild Card gym owner/trainer Dante Almario. The boy is promising.
Cao Van Nguyen - Bronze at the National Champs (actually 4th) at 56kg. He competed at Vina Cup 2018 Dong Nai. He fought a Korean pro who had 10 wins and was a real journeyman. The Korean was 4kg heavier and a lot taller. Cao Van Nguyen went great, didn’t take a backward step, and landed lots on the Korean. He has lots of similarities to Nguyen Van Duong, just a slightly inferior version. He is very strong kid and has the same back and neck as NVD. I like him a lot because I think he is better suited to the pros.
Ariel Puton wins. This fight looks an absolute war and might just be the best of the night – and it is the first!! Super tough fight to pick. Cao Van Nguyen loves these sort of events. It is obvious he lifts for a big stage. He bashed the big Korean pro at Vina Cup like he was a harp seal. He never took a backward step, and the Korean was good (albeit slow) Ariel Puton is not slow, and knows how to put a guy to the sword! At this stage, the Viet has power but is a slapper, so is unlikely to get a knockout. I select Ariel Puton here because he punches a lot straighter, so I see his landed shot ratio being higher. He also will make the Viet pay if he gets careless. The Korean was too slow to capitalise on that in the Dong Nai fight and landed excellent body shots, but because his head was twice the size of a normal human, he wore shots there. Ariel is younger and more dynamic and should win a cracker. Hard not to love Cao Van Nguyen – he is a total warrior!
Fight 2 63.5kg Emmet Brown v Bui Phuoc Tung undercard 4 rounds
Emmet Brown (Australia) - former good amateur who is going professional. The mail is that he is a really competent boxer, with lots of rugged strength and high work rate. Bondi Boxing Club have placed a high rating on the boy from Byron Bay known as Armageddon!. If they are right, and the name fits snug, he will do very well as a pro.
Bui Phuoc Tung - Silver medallist at National Champs at 63.5kg to Tran Duc Tho. Maybe I am biased but I really like this guy. He is awkward and cavalier. Stays really loose, very confident fighter. All the fights I have seen of him have been against the better guys in Vietnam. And even in his losses, he has often looked the more talented boxer with the most scope to improve. This guy is a bit of a bean pole 63.5kg, and will get stronger and grow into it really well. But he needs to improve lots.
Too tough to call. Bui Phuoc Tung landed lots of good shots at the National Champs and got silver against Vu Thanh Dat. He has fast hands, throws from some awkward angles, and loves and trusts his hands. At this stage, his head doesn’t move a lot and he can be easy to counter. It’s the main reason he has lost close fights with very talented opponents. My guess is, Emmet isn’t as fast as those opponents, nor as fast as Bui PhuocTung. But he will land on the Viet, and he is a fully fledged 63.5kg guy (whereas the Viet fought at 56kg as recently as last year) This is tough to call – either the Viet gets off to a flier and lands lots of leather in the first two rounds, or Emmet stays patient and picks his counters. He is an experienced boxer, and I believe if he’s outgunned early, this is what he will do. And he will land the heavier shots. That said, I am going with the Viet. Why? He has fought Vu Thanh Dat twice (won one lost one) but in each fight, he did look the more talented guy. Vu Thanh Dat fought a guy 4.5kg heavier than him and schooled him in the first two rounds. It’s hard for me to imagine that Emmet would have the wood on Tommy Mercuri jr– so I have to presume that Bui will handle this big assignment and have too much hand and foot speed for Emmet (who is now 29) Fight can easily go either way. Emmet has the experience and power ascendency.
Fight 3 51kg Gretel De Paz v Nguyen Thi Tam undercard 4 rounds
Gretel De Paz (Philippines) - pro boxer 10 fights 6 wins (2 wins by KO) Gretel’s losses have been against unbeaten opponents in Japan, China, Macau, and Australia. Gretel is a good boxer, nice balance and decent power. She is extremely strong and heavily built, and takes shots really well. She can also take a shot and throw Golovkin style, so not the typical girl tip and run fighter.
Nguyen Thi Tam - Southpaw. Won national Champs at 51kg. Won Victory 8 November 3. Won World Youth Gold Medal in Budapest. 3rd Asian Games 2018. Tall with broad shoulders – an absolute weapon and still learning!
Nguyen Thi Tam wins. The Viet star has lots of flaws and as good as she is right now, I can’t comprehend how good she will be with higher level training. Her shot selection is rubbish, her power hand is rubbish, and she fights like an amateur just hoping to win based on hand speed and shot volume. In spite of all that, she’s just an amazing athlete with really good height and awkwardness for 51kg opponents. Add to that, she is fast and has a good petrol tank. With the right trainer I am sure she can be top rated pro, maybe even first world champ for Vietnam. She wins this even though she’s matching a decent pro here. Gretel is a good boxer but short – only 5ft 3. No easy entrance angles for her with Nguyen Thi Tam. She is a strong girl with a good chin, and not bad balance – very solid in the legs. She has Ok power also. BUT – no hand and foot speed, and easy for the Viet girl to tag her on the way in and way out, so she simply can’t outpoint Tam. She would need a KO and that won’t be happening. This will be on OK fight for Tam, as it’s a test against a durable opponent who won’t be intimidated by her, and will wear a shot to land one. I’d be pretty sure this is the first time Tam has fought a tough pro, and she will learn a lot from fighting a girl that not only will not consistently be on the back foot, but will get low and come forward.
Fight 4 63.5kg Jino Rodrigo v Vu Thanh Dat undercard 4 rounds
Jino Rodrigo (Philippines) - pro boxer 6 fights 5 wins 1 draw (4 wins by KO) He has campaigned at lightweight, and then just got bigger. Good boxer, nice balance, heavy right hand - especially overhand. If you stand in front of him and trade, you are going to get knocked out. They call him the missing link – it will become obvious why.
Vu Thanh Dat - Won the National Champs at 63.5kg. This is the guy that fought the very promising Tommy Mercuri jr at 67kg at November 3 event. He handled the heavier Mercuri quite well, and took him apart early. He was overwhelmed by the Mercuri punch rate late, but his best moments were definitely better than Tommy’s. He is a bit conservative in punch volume, but picks his shots well and has really good balance. At this stage, he is a really strong boy at 63.5kg
Jino Rodrigo is a knockout puncher, quite slick, and you’d expect would be a short price favourite. But I like Vu Thanh Dat! Jino has power but he gets impatient to use it. His jab is average and he is right hand happy, especially the overhand. Vu Thanh Dat showed against a way bigger Tommy Mercuri that he can’t be bullied, and I think he will work out that Jino sometimes forgets his lead up work while trying to land the heavy shots. I like that Vu Thanh Dat can attack and also counter punch. He is well suited here as long as Jino doesn’t land a bomb early. Jino has been fighting guys that like to load up, so to a degree, his life has been made simple for him so far. The other thing that helps the Viet, is that Jino has been slaying really strong (and a little mediocre) light weights. Vu Thanh Dat showed last time that even though he is 63.5kg, he can handle a strong 68kg boy like Tommy Mercuri very well.
Fight 5 70kg Danilo Creati v Tran Duc Tho MAIN UNDERCARD 6 rounds
Danilo Creati (Italy) - 5x national amateur champion and unbeaten pro. 4 fights 4 wins . Fast hands, good footwork. Very sharp and structured – also quite a conservative boxer. Very tidy and impressive looking fighter. The guys that have been sparring him say that Danilo is a ghost – he’s that hard to hit!
Tran Duc Tho - (Southpaw) National Champion 2018. This guy is a work in progress. He is gangly, awkward, unorthodox. Lots of potential. I like that he is a super confident kid with good timing, and has learnt his trade against much smaller but sharper Viet boxers. With good training, I think he can improve A LOT. He is a decided step up on Creati’s Aussie opponents, and he looks as though 6 rounds should suit him – as he seems to know how to dominate, and also to how take a rest and wait for opportunities.
Creati wins. Creati has top amateur and pro pedigree, and it seems improbable that an awkward and still learning boxer could beat him. Danilo Creati would be a short price favourite in betting here. He has been super impressive in all his Aussie wins. BUT Tran Duc Tho seems impossible to intimidate, and I think the Viet is that unorthodox, tough, and so very confident and creative with his hands that there is also a very good chance the Italian just fails to understand what he is going to do next!. It’s a cracker of a fight though, as Creati is sooo tidy, he won’t leave any easy shots on offer and the Viet will have to earn each of them. The Viet has also had experience (lots of it) against short sharp punchers that are quicker than Creati, so he should do very well. This is a great fight – maybe both guys will reach new levels here.
Fight 6 60.0kg Jye Lane Taylor v Nguyen Van Duong MAIN EVENT 6 rounds
Jye Lane Taylor (Australia) - Jye is hot talent from Australia. He made his long awaited pro debut on 23 feb, and after dropping his opponent in the first round, scored a dominant win. Since Victory 8 November 3, he has been sparring top quality opponents and training the house down. This fight is listed at 59kg – Jye will be around 62kg by the time he walks into the ring. Jye will be a great guy for future Vietnam events – clean fighter, lots of poise.
Nguyen Van Duong - 3rd at national champs after sustaining a head cut. Won the recent Victory 8 against a bigger Kamil Syed. NVD normally a 56kg fighter – Kamil a 61kg fighter. Kamil Syed returned home and was a good winner of the second tier organisation Australian title. Outstanding talent – fast hands, good balance, very strong. Still learning.
Lane Taylor wins a close one. Class boxer who can easily go 6 rounds and has massive height and weight advantage. He also has benefit of seeing previous fights of NVD, and his multiple flaws. NVD will need lots of schooling before March, and learn how to save petrol if he is to win the March fight. Jye Lane is very conservative boxer (sometimes too much so) and I expect NVD to start fast and get the better of the opening exchanges. This is a great main event and will go to points, so for NVD to win, he will need to moderate his pace a little and pick his shots better as the fight goes on. Fitness query on NVD at 6 rounds. After this event, he will revert to his true weight category of 56kg.
For more information about Victory 8 and the March 29 event: https://www.facebook.com/victory8boxing/
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