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Ariel Puton, Gretel de Paz, Jino Rodrigo in Tough Battles March 29 in Vietnam

By Carlos Costa
Fri, 15 Mar 2019

Filipino boxers Ariel Puton, Gretel De Paz and Jino Rodrigo are set to see action in the televised biggest boxing show in Vietnam "Victory 8: Welcome to Vietnam," featuring the best local fighters against foreign foes on Friday, March 29 at the Nguyen Du Stadium in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, with the fights streaming live on:

The Filipino boxers will be guided in Vietnam by Madame Cucuy Elorde, Gretchen Abaniel and veteran man of boxing Dante Almario.

Australian boxing commentator and former super middleweight fighter Ben McCulloch offers his expert analysis on the fights of the Filipinos:

Ariel Puton.

ARIEL PUTON vs CAO VAN NGUYEN. Featherweight. 126 Pounds.

Ariel Puton (Philippines) - pro boxer 5 fights 5 wins 4 by stoppage. They call him the "Sleep Doctor." This kid is young and has very heavy hands. He is an unbeaten pro against mediocre opposition. No doubt he is good, but I also have no doubt that Cao Van Nguyen is his best opponent to date. Similar to Jino Rodrigo, he likes to set shots and has a heavy right hand. He is trained by gym owner/trainer Dante Almario. The boy is promising.

Cao Van Nguyen (Vietnam) - Bronze at the National Champs at 56kg. He competed at Vina Cup 2018 Dong Nai. He fought a Korean who had 10 wins and was a real journeyman. The Korean was 4kg heavier a lot taller. Cao Van Nguyen went great, didn’t take a backward and landed lots on the Korean. He has lots of similarities to Nguyen Van Duong, just a slightly inferior version. He is a very strong kid and has the same back and neck as NVD. I like him a lot because I think he is better suited to the pros.

Puton wins. This fight looks an absolute war and might just be the best of the night – and it is the first!! Super tough fight to pick. Cao Van Nguyen loves these sort of events. It is obvious he lifts for a big stage. He bashed the big Korean pro at Vina Cup like he was a harp seal. He never took a backward step, and the Korean was good (albeit slow)

Ariel Puton is not slow, and knows how to put a guy to the sword! At this stage, the Viet has power but is a slapper, so is unlikely to get a knockout. I select Ariel Puton here because he punches a lot straighter, so I see his landed shot ratio being higher. He also will make the Viet pay if he gets careless.

The Korean was too slow to capitalize on that in the Dong Nai fight and landed excellent body shots, but because his head was twice the size of a normal human, he wore shots there. Ariel is younger and more dynamic and should win a cracker. Hard not to love Cao Van Nguyen – he is a total warrior!

Gretel de Paz.

GRETEL DE PAZ VS NGUYEN THI TAM. Flyweight. 112 pounds

Gretel De Paz (Philippines) - pro boxer 10 fights 6 wins (2 wins by KO) Gretel’s losses have been against unbeaten opponents in Japan, China, Macau, and Australia. Gretel is a good boxer, nice balance. She is extremely strong and heavily built and takes shots really well. She can also take a shot and throw Golovkin style, so not the typical girl tip and run fighter.

Nguyen Thi Tam (Vietnam). Won national Champs at 51kg. Won Victory 8 November 3. Won World Youth Gold Medal in Budapest 3rd Asian Games 2018. Tall with broad shoulders – an absolute weapon and still learning!

Nguyen Thi Tam wins. The Viet star has lots of flaws and as good as she is right now, I can’t comprehend how good she will be with higher level training. Her shot selection is rubbish, her power hand is rubbish, and she fights like an amateur just hoping to win based on hand speed and shot volume. In spite of all that, she’s just an amazing athlete with really good height and awkwardness for 51kg opponents.

Add to that, she is fast and has a good petrol tank. With the right trainer, I am sure she can be rated pro, maybe even first world champ for Vietnam. She wins this even though she’s matching a decent pro here. Gretel is a good boxer but short – only 5ft 3. No easy entrance angles for her with Nguyen Thi Tam.

She is a strong girl with a good chin, and not bad balance – very solid in the legs. She has Ok power also. BUT – no hand and foot speed, and easy for the Viet girl to tag her on the way in and way out, so she simply can’t outpoint Tam. She would need a KO and that won’t be happening.

This will be on OK fight for Tam, as it’s a test against a durable opponent who won’t be intimidated by her, and will wear a shot to land one. I’d be pretty sure this is the first time Tam has fought a tough pro, and she will learn a lot from fighting a girl that not only will not consistently be on the back foot, but will get low and come forward.

Jino Rodrigo.

JINO RODRIGO vs VU THANH DAT. Super Lightweight. 140 pounds.

Jino Rodrigo (Philippines) - pro boxer 6 fights 5 wins 1 draw (4 wins by KO) He has campaigned at lightweight, and then just got bigger. Good boxer, nice balance, heavy right hand - especially overhand. If you stand in him and trade, you are going to get knocked out. They call him – it will become obvious why.

Vu Thanh Dat (Vietnam) - Won the National Champs at 63.5kg. This is the guy that fought the very promising Tommy Mercuri jr at 67kg at November 3 event. He handled the heavier Mercuri quite well and took him apart early. He was overwhelmed by the Mercuri punch rate late, but his best moments were definitely better than Tommy’s. He is a bit conservative in punch volume, but picks his shots well and has really good balance. At this stage, he is a really strong boy at 63.5kg.

Rodrigo is a knockout puncher, quite slick, and you’d expect would be a short price favorite. But I like Vu Thanh Dat. Jino has power but he gets impatient to use it. His jab is average and he is right hand happy, especially the overhand.

Vu Thanh Dat showed against a way bigger Tommy Mercuri that he can’t be bullied, and I think he will work out that Jino sometimes forgets his lead up work while trying to land the heavy shots. I like that Vu Thanh Dat can attack and also counter punch. He is well suited here as long as Jino doesn’t land a bomb early. Jino has been fighting guys that like to load up, so to a degree, his life has been made simple for him so far.

The other thing that helps the Viet, is that Jino has been slaying really strong (and a little mediocre) Vu Thanh Dat showed last time that even though he is 63.5kg, he can handle a strong 68kg boy like Tommy Mercuri very well.


Bui Phuoc Tung (Vietnam) vs Emmet Brown (Australia) Super Lightweight.

Tran Duc Tho vs Danilo Creati (Italy). Super Welterweight.

Nguyen Van Duong (Vietman) vs Jye Lane Taylor (Australia).

"Victory 8: Welcome to Vietnam" is a production of Vietnam Sports Platform Boxing (VSP) in cooperation with Vietnam Boxing Federation.

For more information about "Victory 8: Welcome to Vietnam" and the March 29 event:

The author Carlos Costa is a Panama boxing reporter living in the Philippines. Carlos can be reached by email: and whatsapp/viber: +639184538152.

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