International Lineup of Kickboxers Wows Local Crowd

Thursday night’s kickboxing lineup at CTN’s studios in Phnom Penh certainly had the crowd buzzing when Cambodian fighter Seng Bunthen crashed out of the ring and landed awkwardly on his head after an attempted knee-to-face maneuver on his Russian op­ponent, Ervant Atagyan, deep into the evening’s first international match up.

All but a few of the $50-per-ticket crowd jumped to their feet, leaving behind their meals of steak, salad and potatoes, which were part of the night’s package of fights and dinner.

“What’s happened to him?” shouted one spectator. “Why hasn’t he got up again?” gasped another.

During the night’s two national matches—which warmed up the crowd for the international bouts —Cheam Adam beat Sam Von Luong and Im Dara beat Mey Sopheap.

Despite his unceremonious exit from the ring during his bout, Seng Bunthen eventually earned a draw with Mr Atagyan, though it had been a very evenly fought match in all of the five rounds.

Switzerland’s Zidov Akuma (which means “devil” in Japan­ese), a self-styled bad boy of kickboxing, wasn’t really such a de­mon after all, starting the first round decidedly sluggish and flat-footed but somehow hanging in, huffing and puffing, to end the five-round match with a loss n points to Cambodia’s Thun Sophea.

By far the most inspired fight of the night was between Cam­bodian champion Vorn Viva and England’s Charlie Gillespie, who despite his wiry physique, brought the fight in the second, third and fourth rounds to the very tough and muscled Khmer champion.

Though suffering un­der the power of the in-close knees and elbows of Mr Viva, MrGillespie kept moving forward, his punching hitting the mark many times, though he eventually lost on points to the Cambod­ian champion.

Aaron Leverton, an executive producer at CTN, said that the evening was a “great success.”

So great, in fact, that CTN hopes to schedule a similar event in November.

“I believe that these events will help the sport to develop,” he said. “Boxers get paid more than they used to but they still need more than they are getting now,” Mr Leverton said.

“They literally put their bodies on the line to make a living and provide entertainment for everybody that is watching.”



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