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Thao aims to be first Vietnam's IBA champion

Tran Van Thao hopes to reach another milestone in his career and national boxing by winning the International Boxing Association (IBA) belt next month in HCM City.
HISTORY MAKER: Tran Van Thao hopes to make history when he takes part in the IBA's bantamweight title match on September 30 in HCM City. Photo Facebook The Trigger

In the bantamweight (52.2kg to 53.5kg) fight, the first world event organised in Vietnam, Thao will face Andrew Laurio of the Philippines on September 30.

“I am ready for the most important fight of my career to make my dream of winning a world title come true," Thao told Việt Nam News.

Thao, 30, has competed in 15 matches winning 14 with nine knockouts and just one loss. His best result to date was a World Boxing Council (WBC) Asian Boxing Council Super Fly title in 2017 when he floored George Lumoly of Indonesia in Bangkok, Thailand.

'The Trigger' Thao was the first Vietnamese boxer taking a WBC title. If winning the IBA title, he will be, again, the first one to take a historic world title for the country.

His rival, Laurio is younger at 23. 'The Prince' took part in 16 matches, recording 12 wins (nine KOs), three losses (all KOs) and one draw.

"Laurio is from the Philippines, a world boxing hub with famed athletes like legendary Manny Pacquiao. I really respect my rival," said Thao.

New chapter

Thao's last pro match was seven months ago when he knocked out Phayom Boonrueang of Thailand in an eight-round match in HCM City after nearly two years away from competitions.

Tran Van Thao (right) knocks out Phayom Boonrueang of Thailand in his last pro match in January in HCM City. Photo bongda.tintuc.vn

He then moved to amateur boxing targeting a gold in the 31st SEA Games in Bac Ninh Province in May.

However, despite his hard work, Thao did not take the title.

"I dream of a gold and the moment that the national flag was raised and I sang the national anthem. It was a pity and sad that I did not make it," he said.

"But I am still proud that I earned the only men's silver medal for Vietnam in this regional competition," said Thao who moved totally professional after the Games.

Amateur boxing and pro boxing may as well be two different sports and Thao said he wanted to focus on the latter to reach to the world level.

"Amateur boxing rules differ from pro-level regarding the number of rounds, gear fighters need to wear, and scoring criteria," said Thao.

Amateur boxing fights are short and have fewer rounds. Boxers compete over three rounds, three minute rounds. Professional fighters need greater endurance and physical strength which will help them to compete in lengthy matches which can be up to 12 rounds.

"It takes lot of time to train for two at the same time. At my age, I can't cover both, and I have made my decision," he said.

Thao, who has boxed since he was 12, hoped that the IBA title match will be a new life chapter.

"Laurio is younger and taller than me. His left hooks are really heavy. But I have more experience than him in pro boxing. My coach and I have researched him carefully and will have suitable tactics for the match," Thao said.

"I have also fought different Filipino boxers and I won all of them. This background made me more confident."

A poster of the IBA title match between Tran Van Thao of Vietnam and Andrew Laurio of the Philippines on September 30 in HCM City.

"I always believe in myself. I have thought about this match my whole life. In my mind, I always think about a win. Victory is kind of 'Law of Attraction' to me," said Thao who trains six hours a day and has not visited his family and two-year-old son for more than two years because of his boxing.

“Boxing has brought me many wonderful things. It changes my point of view and plays a big role in my life. I really enjoy it and want to reach higher levels in career," he said.

"The IBA belt will be a great present to my wife and son for what they sacrificed for me."

Coach Trinh Su Phu said Thao was really enthusiastic and determined. He showed his iron mindset and great assurance for boxing each match in particular, which helped him a lot on the ring.

"Thao is much better than he was five years ago when he took the WBC Asia title," Trinh Su Phu told Việt Nam News.

"He has remarkably improved everything, from his style, fitness to spirit and technique. The world title is really meaningful to him and he has been doing good job to date to prepare for another victory.

"I believe in him and my training ability. I am confident that it will be a KO for Thao and he will make a history for Vietnam." 

Source: Vietnam News

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