ONE Championship: Johan Ghazali says Nguyen loss "could be best thing that ever happens to me"

Johan Gazali embraces Nguyen Tran Duy Nhat after their fight at ONE 167.
Johan Ghazali embraces Nguyen Tran Duy Nhat after their fight at ONE 167.

Johan Ghazali was expected to cement his position as one of ONE Championship's brightest young stars on Saturday morning in Bangkok before Nguyen Tran Duy Nhat threw a spanner in the works.

The Vietnamese veteran schooled the 17-year-old Malaysian upstart over three rounds of their flyweight Muay Thai bout at ONE 167.

"Jojo" had earlier walked out to a rockstar's reception from his burgeoning fanbase at a sold-out 12,000-seat Impact Arena.

But he was left limping away to the back, his legs – and perhaps his ego – bruised, with the Vietnamese flag and not the Malaysian colors being flown as Nguyen followed him and soaked up the adulation from the crowd.

But later in the afternoon, Ghazali appeared in good spirits as he went for a dip in the host Peninsula Hotel's swimming pool before catching up with Sportskeeda for a brief chat.

He admitted he would learn plenty of lessons in defeat, that would stand him in good stead as he continues to develop, saying:

"This could end up being the best thing that ever happens to me."

Ghazali was still walking gingerly, and admitted his leg had been banged up by the 35-year-old Nguyen, who tasted his first victory in ONE since November 2019.

The fight was supposed to be a breakout win on the biggest stage, after Ghazali had racked up a series of quick KOs at ONE Friday Fights en route to earning a ONE Championship contract.

His main roster debut, also at Lumpinee Stadium, ended in similar fashion, but this was a step up in competition from Edgar Tabares last December.

But Ghazali remained in good spirits despite the setback, and insisted he would be back stronger than ever. He added on social media:

"Don't judge me on my wins, judge me on how I come back from my losses. Thank you for all the support, this is just a small bump in the road and I will be back."

Nguyen, who lost via second-round TKO against Denis Puric on the same card that Ghazali debuted on, was still impressed by his young opponent despite handing him a first loss in six fights under the ONE banner. Nguyen told Sportskeeda:

"After fighting with Johan, I can see he’s a young fighter with strong hands. I can learn from him. He doesn’t go backwards – he comes forward, forward, forward and he is very strong."

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Edited by Tejas Rathi
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