NEW YORK (June 9, 2011) – World-renowned trainer Buddy McGirt did a double take the moment he first laid eyes on Dat “Be Dat” Nguyen during a sparring session with Arturo Gatti before Gatti’s second fight with Micky Ward in late 2002.
“I saw this guy who could really hit and said he should be knocking everyone out,” McGirt said. “He was in there doing his thing and I liked him. Someone said they were looking for a fighter so I gave them Dat’s number. And that’s how we met.”
For the past five years, McGirt has trained Nguyen of Vietnam, who will headline on a special edition of ShoBox: The New Generation on SHOWTIME® this Saturday LIVE at 10:35 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast).
Nguyen (17-1, 6 KOs), a U.S. resident now living in Vero Beach, Fla., will face promising Luis Orlando “Orlandito” Del Valle (12-0,10 KOs), of Bayamon, Puerto Rico, in a 10-round featherweight fight at Roseland Ballroom in New York City. The card co-promoted by DiBella Entertainment and Gary Shaw Productions will include an 10-rounder that pits 2008 Puerto Rican Olympian, power-punching Jonathan Gonzalez (13-0, 13 KOs), of Rio Piedras, against Colombian Richard Gutierrez (26-6-1, 16 KOs), of Miami, in a junior middleweight match.
A former kickboxer who was born in Bien Hoa about 45 minutes north of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, Nguyen graduated from high school in 2001 and received a full scholarship to Northern Michigan University, home of the U.S. Olympic Center. He spent three years there studying computer information systems.
The 28-year-old Nguyen has won his last six starts, all by decision, including an eight-round decision over Andres Ledesma in his last fight on Oct. 10, 2009.
Although it’s been 20 months since he’s fought, McGirt doesn’t believe in ring rust when you’re young. “That’s a load of crap,” he said. “As long as you take care of yourself it doesn’t matter how long it’s been.”
Nguyen answered six questions.
Question: There will be a lot of Puerto Rican fans in the crowd on Saturday rooting for your opponent. Are you concerned about that and do you hear the crowd when you’re in the ring?
Nguyen: “I hope that there will be a few Vietnamese fans there. I’m sure their will. But it doesn’t matter. I’m always in for putting on a good show for whoever is there. It all depends. Usually when I fight I don’t hear anything. If I concentrate and pay attention and try to hear them, I can sometimes hear them. When I’m focused then I can’t hear them.”
Question: What has training with Buddy McGirt meant to you these past five years?
Nguyen: “Buddy has trained multiple world champions. With Buddy, he’s very calm and when he’s calm I’m relaxed. He just has so much experience. I do whatever Buddy says to do. Buddy doesn’t really take the credit for all the champions he’s produced. He’s very humble and doesn’t talk about a lot of his other fighters. I’m just happy to be part of his stable of fighters.”
Question: What do you think about the featherweight division right now and are you ready to call anyone out?
Nguyen: “(Laughing) No. Not quite yet. There’s a lot of talent in this division and I’m happy to be part of it. There’s (Yuriorkis) Gamboa and Chris John and all the other champions. (Juan Manuel) Lopez just lost but he has so much heart. Those are some of the guys I would like to fight because they are so well known and well respected.”
Question: You opened your own gym called Miracle Boxing Academy in Vero Beach. Would you like to stay in the fight game after your boxing career is over?
Nguyen: “I love this art and I’ve been doing it so long it just felt like the right thing to do. It’s made me a better fighter. I’m doing homework every day when I’m training other people. It’s been a real blessing for me. It’s something I did to give myself the best opportunity to succeed as a fighter right now.”
Question: Not many boxers get full college scholarships for boxing, but you did. How did that come about?
Nguyen: “Yes, I received a full scholarship to Northern Michigan University where the U.S. Olympic Center is. I fought in the U.S. Nationals and the coaches like Al Mitchell recognized that I had some talent. I even beat Andre Dirrell in the 1999 National Junior Olympics. I left after three years to turn professional and am still a few credits short of getting my degree. It gave me a lot of confidence and opened up my eyes to a lot of different things.”
Question: You are a self-described “computer nerd” and even operate your own website. What do you plan on doing with your computer education?
Nguyen: “I’ve always worked on computers and I fix people’s computers. I do everything on my website (www.miracleboxing.com). If I didn’t get the boxing scholarship and wasn’t so focused on making the Olympics then I would probably be a computer engineer right now. If I do something I go the whole nine yards so it’s something I’ve kind of put on backburner for now.”