Former kickboxing champion Ei Phouthang staged a comeback victory Sunday in his first bout following a lengthy suspension.
The crowd roared madly as Ei Phouthang stepped into the ring at TV5’s hot and stuffy Borei Keila arena to face Slovakian kickboxer Richard Simko.
In the first round, both fighters stood their ground, waiting patiently for an opening.
The fighters picked up speed in the next four rounds, exchanging a volley of kicks, knees, punches and the occasional elbow.
Ei Phouthang smiled when the Slovakian clipped him, and responded with a series of devastating right kicks.
In the fourth round, Simko’s swollen wrist had to be examined by the ringside doctor, who said the injury was not serious enough to stop the fight.
Despite Simko’s valiant showing, the more experienced Cambodian won out eventually.
On May 11, boxing officials handed down a seven-month suspension against Ei Phouthang after accusing him of throwing a May 6 fight against Australian kickboxer Timure Dell.
The contorversial fight ended with angry fans pelting the ring with plastic bottles.
Oum Yourann, president of the Cambodian Boxing Federation, said that Ei Phouthang had trained hard to win back his name.
“Now he can win back his reputation because he had a better fight,” he said.
Oum Yourann’s sentiments were mirrored by many adoring fans.
“This time he fought better,” said 30-year-old Reth Ran.
“I love Ei Phoutang,” added 11-year-old Nuon Buya, as the former champion shook hands with members of the audience.
Ei Phouthang said he was ecstatic to be back in the ring and thankful to have been given the chance to make amends for his previous feeble performance, which he attributed to a leg injury caused by a dog bite.
“Now this bad thing has disappeared,” he said. “I am very happy about this win.”