Boxing ace seeks SEA Games glory

By Duc Dong   January 4, 2022 | 05:00 am PT
Boxing ace seeks SEA Games glory
Tran Van Thao (R) throws a right hook at Phayom Boonrueang in a boxing match in HCMC on January 2, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Dong Huyen
After a staggering knockout victory Sunday, Tran Van Thao is willing to put aside all other plans to compete for Vietnam in SEA Games 31.

"I have won the national championship seven times but haven't claimed the SEA Games gold medal once. Therefore, I really want to return to the national team for the next SEA Games. If given the opportunity, I'm ready to put aside the plan of professional competitions to devote myself to the national team," Thao said.

Thao, nicknamed The Trigger, was the national champion in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. In 2017, he became the first Vietnamese boxer to hold the WBC Asia belt.

In 2019, the World Boxing Federation hosted a belt fight for Thao in the U.S. However, the fight couldn't take place because his opponents kept on withdrawing. Recently, Thao revealed he had lost the WBC Asia belt because he didn't try to defend the title. The 29-year-old boxer said he wants to focus on bigger belts. So far, he had 14 wins and one loss.

He also talked about the difference between pro and national team boxing.

"When you go pro, you must have great stamina and a consistent strategy because there are eight rounds. But on the national team level, a match only has three rounds so the difference here is clear. Many boxing champions still lost when they competed in the Olympics, Asian Games or SEA Games and that's normal. However, if I got called up to the national team this time, I will spend five months preparing. That will be enough to conquer SEA Games," Thao said.

On Sunday in Ho Chi Minh City, Thao knocked out Thai boxer Phayom Boonrueang in the second round of the bantamweight match. Despite two years of no competitions, Thao still defeated Boonrueang quickly.

"I spent about five to eight hours boxing every day. I always had a tremendous desire, which is to bring Vietnamese boxing to an international level. Therefore, when I fought Phayom, I wanted to put on a show but I couldn't do that because I had exploited his mistake to knock him down early," Thao said.

Although this is not a title fight, going up against a stronger opponent with nine consecutive wins by knockout was a chance for Thao to improve his ranking.

The 29-year-old has climbed to 39th after exiting the world rankings due to being inactivity over the past two years.

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