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Fans favourite faces champ

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Kao Roomchang is set to fight 60kg titlist Lao Sinath at TV5 arena Sunday

Photo by: ROBERT STARKWEATHER

Lao Sinath hits the bag during a workout session Monday at the house of his trainer, Hong Suen.

HARD-CHARGING brawler Kao Roomchang will likely face the most difficult challenge of his career Sunday when he meets 60-kilogram titlist Lao Sinath in the main event at TV5 arena.

Kao Roomchang enters the match a significant underdog, but as many other top-name fighters have discovered, his relentless attacks and sneaky power often combine for explosive knockouts.

"Kao Roomchang is a very strong fighter," said Hong Suen, Lao Sinath's trainer at the Commando 911 boxing club. "We know he is going to come right at us."

"There is no way we would take him lightly," he added.

Fighting at the announced weight of 63.5 kilograms, the bout Sunday is a non-title fight.

In his relatively brief two-year career, Battambang native Kao Roomchang has earned a reputation for flashy knockouts, making him a crowd favourite.

Two of his most memorable endings include the fourth round stoppage of hard-punching May Socheat with a spinning back kick, and the second round clubbing of Poev Vannsak with a series of thunderous elbows.

Against the sport's very best, however, Kao Roomchang (24-5-2) has met with limited success.

The two share many top-notch opponents, most notably Bheut Kham and more recently Long Sophy. Kao Roomchang went five rounds with Bheut Kham in January.

Arguably the most dominant fighter Cambodia has ever produced at 60 kilograms, Bheut Kham was returning from a long layoff and clearly not at peak condition. He coasted as much as he could through the later rounds, ultimately winning the decision on experience as much as technique despite struggling at times with Kao Roomchang's ferocious, non-stop attacks.

Kao Roomchang has faced top-ranked Long Sophy three times in as many months. While Long Sophy has walked away with the victory each time, the fights have all been decided by extremely narrow margins.

In comparison, Lao Sinath (44-3) boasts not just wins over Bheut Kham and Long Sophy, but stunning knockouts.

In their first match in August, Kampong Speu native Lao Sinath demolished Bheut Kham, scoring an 8-count in the third round and a knockout in the fourth.

In his most recent outing against Long Sophy - a title defense in March at CTN - Lao Sinath dropped Long Sophy with a straight left hand in the third round. The punch flattened Long Sophy, and he was still asleep on the canvass long after referee Sok Vichay counted ten.

Heading into Sunday's fight against Kao Roomchang, Lao Sinath's camp remain cagey about strategy.

"Sinath is the taller fighter," Hong Suen said. "So we will try to use that to our advantage." Beyond that, Hong Suen prefers to keep fight plans secret. Instead, he offers some old boxing wisdom.

"A lot of guys fight with their strength," he said, raising both arms in a body-builder pose for emphasis. "We're going to try and win with our brains."

Fights start 3:30pm Sunday at TV5 arena, Takhmao.

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