Vietnamese boxing champions secure KO wins in pro return

October 02, 2022 - 13:58
The boxing tournament marked the return to pro boxing for both athletes.


Vietnamese Trương Đình Hoàng (left) lands a punch on Indonesian Robert Kopa, who was floored in the third round of the men's super-middleweight class at the LEAD: The Beginning. Photo courtesy of Shadow Entertainment

HCM CITY — Trương Đình Hoàng and Lê Hữu Toàn both needed only three rounds to knock their rivals out in two key matches at the 'LEAD: The Beginning' on Saturday in HCM City.

The boxing tournament marked the return to pro boxing for both athletes.

Hoàng floored Indonesian No 1 Robert Kopa in the men's super-middleweight (75kg) category while Toàn outclassed Silem Serang, also of Indonesia, in the men's minimumweight (48kg) at the Sài Gòn Sports Club in District 7.

Youth, height, reach, fitness and agility were all advantages for 32-year-old Hoàng, allowing him to attack with confidence.

The World Boxing Association (WBA) Asia champion hit Kopa with a variety of combinations, to which the Indonesian had no answer.

Kopa, 38, who has lost his latest five bouts, could only land fleeting jabs in the opening two rounds.

Hoàng, who has not competed professionally in nearly three years, landed a flurry of 15 punches in the first 15 seconds of the third round, dropping Kopa to the canvas.

To his credit, Kopa beat the count but was back down again a minute later.

After he was knocked down a third time the referee waved it off.

"It seems that Kopa had not prepared well for this match so things went pretty easily for me," Hoàng told reporters after the fight.

"On my side, I prepared carefully for my return and this win is a good beginning for my pro boxing journey," said Hoàng. His record is now three wins out of three, all via KOs.

The first Vietnamese boxer to hold both the WBA East Asia and WBA Asia belts will next compete in the National Sports Games in December in Bắc Ninh Province. He has dominated the local scene for 13 years in a row.

After that, he is scheduled to defend his WBA Asia title in his hometown of Đắk Lắk Province next January, with the date to be confirmed.

Another outstanding performance came from WBA Asia champion Toàn.

Lê Hữu Toàn of Việt Nam (left) knocks out Silem Serang of Indonesia in the men's minimumweight category at the LEAD: The Beginning on October 1. Photo courtesy of Hải Sơn

The Vietnamese boxer landed a lot of jabs on Silem Serang's face, though his heavy body shots were hí best weapons. The Indonesian resisted but his jabs and hooks were either ineffective as Toàn successfully avoided them.

Toàn's strong body shot on Serang's belly 10 seconds before the end of the second round dropped the visitor to his knee.

After the same thing happened three times in a row early in the third round the referee declared Toàn the winner.

"I didn't think I could win so quickly, I didn't imagine KOing Serang as he was the Indonesian champion in 2019," Toàn told Việt Nam News.

"He is much more experienced than me and I am not yet recovered from flu, which affected my slee. I am really worried about my fitness.

"In the first half, I also suffer a lot of punches and he dominated me. But with my coaches' advices I overturned the situation and won," he said.

Toàn said it was a meaningful win for him as he improved his world ranking ahead of defending his title later this year.

Toàn, who is currently world No 39, has five pro wins, three via KO.

The LEAD: The Beginning is jointly organised by Shadow Entertainment, Sài Gòn Sports Club and MAD Corp. It will be held monthly in Việt Nam creating opportunities for talented athletes to perform and gain experience. VNS