Defending champion Nhat silenced the Minsk Palace of Sport when he defeated host fighter Vinnik Artsem in the semi-finals of the men’s 60kg category.
“Prior to the semis, the Belarusians were really confident because they were competing on home turf with great support from local fans,” said coach Giap Trung Thang. “They cheered and shouted a lot to encourage Artsem and psychologically overwhelm Nhat, but it was of no use. Nhat is made of firm stuff. He was not affected and gave Artsem a lesson of muay on the ring,” Thang said.
Nhat, the six-time world winner, will have to overcome Murat Arslan of Turkey in the last match to defend his title. Arslan, who has a rapid fighting style, beat Azitov Stanislav of Russia in the second semi-final match.
“It will be a tense final as it is where the best fighters meet. However, I have faith in my athlete because of his great experience and especially as he is in perfect form. He is strong enough to beat the last challenge,” the coach said.
The second finals for Vietnam is between Duc and Bakytzhan Rifkhanov of Kazakhstan in the men’s 48kg class.
Duc, who won a silver medal at the Asian Beach Games three years ago, is said to be an intelligent athlete with skilful technique. However, he has never won a world-level tournament because fighters from Thailand, the homeland of muaythai, have dominated in the lightweight classes so far.
That’s the reason Duc was not a title favourite before leaving for Belarus. However, he has done a great job and smoothly entered the final match after two wins.
On May 10th, Duc defeated Yiu Tat Fai of Hong Kong in the semi-finals, while Arifkhanov won over Jojie Ajaron of the Philippines.
“This time, his performance is really good. He has dominated all the matches, though his rivals were taller and bigger. But he is confident and has had impressive wins,” said Thang. “It is a great opportunity for him to become the world champion for the first time. His Kazakhstan rival is big and fast, but I believe that Duc will find a solution to beat him”./.