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!”