|Trần Văn Thảo (left) punches Uzbekistan's Shermatov Ravshanbek in a match during the Trigger Championship 11 tournament on March 20 in HCM City. Photo webthethao.vn.
HÀ NỘI — Trần Văn Thảo is on verge of being the first Vietnamese athlete to take an International Boxing Association (IBA) bantamweight belt.
The former World Boxing Council Asia champion will fight Tanzanian Fadhili Majiha at the Trigger Boxing Club in HCM City on July 18 and a win would be a remarkable milestone for Vietnamese boxing.
"Being the first one ever to wear the IBA belt would not only be meaningful to Thảo and me but also Việt Nam," said coach Trịnh Văn Trí.
"We are the Vietnamese who put the first brick in the formation of professional boxing in Việt Nam. We always hope to popularise our boxing ability in the world. While I am researching information, Thảo trains and realises our dreams.
"The IBA match will be a good opportunity for us to make a dream come true. We are working very hard to prepare for it," he said.
Thảo is training eight hours per day and following a strict nutrition and gym schedule to prepare for the fight.
The fight is set to be the toughest yet for Thao, who turns 28 in 10 days.
Majiha is a year younger than Thảo but has fought 44 matches in which he won 26 (with 12 KOs), drew four and lost 14. The world No 73's best result was a title at the World Boxing Association Pan African in 2018.
Thảo has been in the ring 14 times with 13 wins (seven KOs) and one loss, and is world No 87.
Thảo's only defeat was to Australian Billy Dib at the match for the World Boxing Council Australasian title in December 2019, after 10 rounds.
“Fadhili Majiha is a young but experienced and brave puncher. He has gone through a lot of big fights in his career. Therefore, to make sure of a positive result, we have to prepare carefully in all fields of strength, technique and strategy. It is a very prestigious belt, we will do our best to keep it home,” said coach Trí.
As one of the activities for the big event, Thảo defeated Uzbekistan's Shermatov Ravshanbek in a bout during the Trigger Championship 11 tournament on March 20.
He will have two more fights in the coming weeks.
"I want to perfect my technique to be ready for any challenge, and am doing it step by step," said Thảo.
"After the WBC Asia title, I am looking toward a higher target, the world title. In case of winning the IBA belt, it would be a big step in the career of my coach and me.
"I have missed the ring a lot after months of being kind of sidelined due to COVID-19. I am now full of energy and ready to explode at any time. I hope I can secure the second title, the biggest task in 2021," he said.
Thảo made his name internationally after defeating Indonesian George Lumoly to become the first Vietnamese boxer to win the WBC Asia title in November 2017.
But he couldn't compete in the 2018 WBC championship after an injury sustained due to a traffic accident and the organisers stripped him of the title. VNS