The first reign by a Vietnamese world champion was a short one, which ended last night as Thi Thu Nhi Nguyen (5-1, 1) lost the WBO female Minimumweight title in her first defense, coming up short in a unification bout against excellent Costa Rican fighter Yokasta Valle (26-2, 9), who added the WBO title to her own IBF belt.
Nguyen, who had been lucky to win the title with a questionable decision over Etsuko Tada, really never got into this one as Valle dominated almost every minute of the fighter. The Costa Rican local, fighting in front of her own fans in San Jose, Costa Rica, out fought, out boxed, outsped, out thought and out punched the Vietnamese visitor, who struggled to get anything going.
From pretty much the first round Valle fought like a fighter with a point to prove, finding a home for her quicker, sharper shots, especially her over hand right which landed time and time again. The success from Valle forced Nguyen to chase the bout at times, and that's never been something she's good at. As she chased and tried to turn things around the defense of Valle had a chance to shine, making Nguyen miss, or hit shoulders, before Valle began firing back combinations.
As the rounds went on there was little to celebrate for Nguyne, who looked second rate through out the bout. The only real moments of sustained success for her came in round 9, though even that wasn't enough to secure her a round and seemed more a care of Nguyen giving everything that was left and having more success than expected, rather than really doing enough to win the round. It was the only one someone could have given her, and it would have been something of a sympathy round at that.
After 10 rounds it was clear this wasn't close, and it was no surprise at all that the judges all turned in shut out scores in favour of the local champion who now has two titles around her waist, and takes another step towards a legacy defining rematch with Tina Rupprecht.
Earlier today we saw the WBO female Minimumweight title change hands as Japanese veteran Etsuko Tada (20-4-3, 7) [多田悦子] was dethroned, in somewhat controversial fashion, by mandatory challenger Thi Thu Nhi Nguyen (5-0, 1), from Vietnam.
In the opening round Tada was the one to establish herself in the middle of the ring whilst Nguyen got on the move, and used the ring more, getting a look at Tada, and using her speed and youth well.
From round 2 onwards Nguyen decided to hold her feet more, with the two fighters often exchanging shots in nice little moments of back and forth action. Those exchanges were really dominated by two things, Nguyen's left hand, which was landing in both jab and left hook forms, and Tada's straight left hand, which was less accurate but much more telling. Through much of the fight it was those two punches that really caught the eye and kept the action competitive looking.
Of course straight left hands, from a hard hitting southpaw, do mark than pitty patty jabs, and it seemed that whilst Nguyen was landing more shots, she wasn't doing much damage, or getting respect from Tada, who seemed to always have the bigger words in the exchanges. It was however not a clear and dominant start for Tada, given she was being out landed.
As the rounds went on the tempo slowly increased, with both women picking it up. The lead to Tada's heavy left hands hurting Nguyen several times in the final rounds of the bout, though Nguyen's toughness showed as she saw out the storm and fired back. She was clearly hurt in rounds 9 and 10, but gritted it out, and managed to see out the distance.
After the final bell all 3 judges all turned in identical scores of 96-94, in favour of Nguyen who got the decision.
It should be noted that the promoter of the event was Nguyen's promoter, and whilst she certainly had a strong start to the fight, from round 2 to 5, it did seem like she was very lucky to get the victory. Especially given how well Tada finished the bout.
Whilst it can be easy to feel sorry for Tada it should be noted that Nguyen actually created history, becoming the first Vietnamese world champion, male or female, in the sport. With that in mind we really hope she can help lay down the marker for the Vietnamese boxing scene, and help kick start a legitimate movement in the country.