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Ciervo 'never saw it coming'


American Judah Ciervo (right) easily won the first round with punches and low kicks, but the momentum of the fight turned quickly with an elbow from Touch Vireak early in the second round.

Referee Sok Vichay gives Juday Ciervo a standing eight-count during the second round of his fight with Touch Vireak at CTN boxing arena Friday.

Touch Vireak throws a punch as Judah Ciervo counters during the second round of their international bout at CTN boxing arena on Friday.
Photos by Robert Starkweather

Touch Vireakk dropped American Judah Ciervo twice in the second round on his way toward scoring a decisive TKO in the pair’s 71-kilogram bout Friday night at the CTN boxing arena.

Working from the clinch, Touch Vireak landed a crushing right elbow to the cheek early in round two, collapsing the 32-year-old American.

“I never saw it coming,” said Ciervo, a native of Pennsylvania who trains out of the Philidelphia Fight Factory, a well-respected American mixed martial arts dojo, adding: “It was a brilliant move.”

Ciervo, wearing black and gold Fight Factory shorts, showed little trouble answering the count. But seconds later – with Ciervo still on shaky legs and his hands held low – Touch Vireak backed the American into the ropes and landed a kick to the head, putting Ciervo on the canvas for a second time.

Cievo made no immediate attempt to get up, prompting referee Sok Vichay to start another count, and Ciervo’s cornerman, Nuon Soriya, to ask for a towel.

Cievo struggled mightily to find his feet, just barely beating the count. And Nuon Soriya lobbed a sweaty white towel over the top rope.

“I could see it in his eyes,” Nuon Soriya said. “He was not good.”

Ciervo offered no protest. “It was the right decision.”

With Friday’s victory, Touch Vireak improved his official record to 10-1.

A native of Koh Kong, Touch Vireak, 27, trains in Oudong with Soy Sokum at the Oudam Meanruth club, formerly known as the Oudam Sports club. He made his professional debut in late 2007, earning a razor-thin victory decision over Northern Irish fighter Richard Weir, who was ringside Friday night. Touch Vireak also came first in the 71-kilogram category of the 2009 National Championships.

Ciervo arrived in Cambodia about two weeks ago. The trip was a gift from his godson’s parents, Say Non and his wife Bunnary, who recently relocated from Philadelphia to Phnom Penh.

“Every year they give me a different Father’s Day present,” Ciervo said. “Last year they threw me out of an airplane. This year it was to come visit them in Cambodia.”

Upon getting the news, Ciervo knew immediately that he wanted to fight. He began researching the Cambodian boxing scene on the Internet, where he discovered the Angkor Youth Boxing Club. Shortly after, he found an article on the club’s head trainer, Paddy Carson, in an American fight magazine.

“I knew I wanted to train with Paddy,” Ciervo said. But as a result of scheduling, the pair had less than week to prepare for Friday’s bout.

“He fought well the first round,” Carson said after Friday’s bout. “But he dropped his hands in the second, and his chin was right up.”

Ciervo easily won the first round, working behind a long left jab and low kicks, and he grappled Touch Vireak to the canvas three times. But the momentum of the fight shifted in round two.

“I started off with a weird rhythm in the second – I could feel it,” Ciervo said. “Whatever [Vireak] saw in the first, he put it to good use in the second.”

The loss moves Ciervo, who also fights mixed martial arts, to an even 5-5 career record in kickboxing. He is 3-3 in MMA fights.

“I’m not going to worry about it,” he said. “I’m going to learn from it.”

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