Kun Khmer Champion Season One winner Cheam Adam loses his do-or-die bout to Khon Reach Sunday to miss a semifinal berth in the CTN tournament
KHON Reach survived a fifth-round charge from Cheam Adam to earn a victory decision Sunday in the final match of the 65-kilogram tournament group stage. The loss knocked Cheam Adam out of the tournament, hosted at the CTN boxing arena, and made room for Ty Bunhan to join Pich Arun, Khon Reach and Him Saran in the final four. Cheam Adam and Khon Reach both came to national attention in 2008 as contestants in the first season of CTN’s boxing reality series, Kun Khmer Champion. The series puts twelve fighters together in one house to live and train, with weekly bouts to winnow the field.
Khon Reach, an early favorite, made a quick exit from the show, losing his first and only fight to Ai Kosal. Cheam Adam went on to become the station’s first Kun Khmer Champion.
In one early episode, Kampong Cham native and world-class “nice guy” Cheam Adam memorably admitted to having difficulties adapting to life in the house. “Some people don’t like me,” he told the cameras.
Yet while the other fighters were cracking jokes and making friends, Cheam Adam was on the road or in the gym, and the results were obvious come showtime. While his opponents slowed in the later rounds, Mr Nice Guy just got stronger.
The storyline nearly repeated itself Sunday. Anlong Veng native Khon Reach built up an early lead then all but collapsed under the pressure of Cheam Adam and the sweltering 37-degree heat.
“I’m totally finished,” Khon Reach said after the bout. “It’s too hot.”
Khon Reach, 21, easily lead in the early rounds, scoring with hard punches and head kicks and frustrating 22-year-old Cheam Adam with elusive defence.
On several occasions, Khon Reach caught Cheam Adam’s right roundhouse and counted with kicks to the head. In the second, as Cheam Adam reached with his punches, Khon Reach countered with hard knees to the body. In the third round, Khon Reach opened two cuts over Cheam Adam’s left eye with elbows.
But late in the middle round Khon Reach started to slow, and Cheam Adam came on strong in the fourth, cutting Khon Reach on the nose with an elbow and stealing the momentum of the fight.
Sitting on his stool after the fourth, Khon Reach looked exhausted. He got through the fifth round mostly on defence, tying up in the clinch and hanging on as Cheam Adam began landing flushly with punches, kicks and elbows.
But the charge came too late, and the knockdown Cheam Adam needed to win, despite appearing tantalizingly close, never came at all.
“I lost,” he conceded, with a polite, humble smile.
The tournament semifinals are scheduled for Sunday May 30 at the CTN boxing arena. Pich Arun will take on Ty Bunhan while Khon Reach will face Him Saran.