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Kao Roomchang marches on

Nuon Soriya, one of the sport’s all-time greats, slowed but could not stop Kao Roomchang, who notched up another milestone victory Sunday at TV5 Arena

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Nuon Soriya (left) stands in disbelief as referee Chaum Chaury declares Kao Roomchang the winner of Sunday’s main event at TV5 Arena.

THE road to boxing fame takes about 14 hours by taxi.

Seven hours each way, the commute marks a typical weekend for Kao Roomchang, the 21-year-old rising star who continued to wreak havoc among the upper echelons of boxing Sunday.

In the biggest win of his two-year career, the Battambang native worked over Nuon Soriya through five rounds to outpoint the famous veteran and earn a narrow decision victory at the TV5 Boxing Arena in Takhmao.

"I like to hit famous guys," Kao Roomchang said after the fight. "Maybe now I am famous, too."

A soldier and part-time English student in Anlong Veng, Kao Roomchang travelled seven hours by taxi Saturday for the bout Sunday, the same as he always does.

When referee Chaum Chaury raised his hand in victory, Kao Roomchang jumped up and down and did a back flip. Nuon Soriya just stood frozen, the expression gone from his face and his right hand still raised in anticipation.

Sitting on the floor in the dressing room afterwards, Nuon Soriya, the 29-year-old veteran from Kampong Cham, discounted the decision.

"Round one he did not fight," he said. "Round two he won, but rounds three, four and five, I won."

Although the Cambodian Amateur Boxing Association does not make score cards public after fights, the five judges at ringside obviously arrived at a different conclusion. The difference likely came down to work rate.

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Kao Roomchang catches his breath between rounds Sunday at TV5 Arena.

Kao Roomchang, who fights out of Club Anlong Veng, answered every punch Nuon Soriya landed. In the middle of a furious third round, Nuon Soriya landed two clean left elbows to the chin to take the lead in the round, but seconds later Kao Roomchang evened the score, catching Nuon Soriya against the ropes with a series of hard punches.

Similar exchanges unfolded throughout the fight, with neither fighter able to claim a clear advantage.

After five rounds, Nuon Soriya had largely slowed Kao Roomchang, who typically fights at a relentless pace, but even so, Kao Roomchang still turned in the busier performance, which likely made the difference in the fight.

The win improves Kao Roomchang to 26-5-2. Nuon Soriya, whose career spans nearly two decades, lost track of his win-loss record years ago.

For the bout Sunday, Kao Roomchang weighed in at 64.3 kilograms. Nuon Soriya, who fights for the Ministry of Interior Boxing Club, weighed in at 64.8 kilograms.

Kao Roomchang was also coming off the biggest win of his career, a May 24 point decision over 60-kilogram titlist Lao Sinath.

Lao Sinath is scheduled to fight Long Sophy this Sunday at TV5. Barring injuries, Lao Sinath and Kao Roomchang will fight a rematch Sunday June 21 at TV5.

Standing outside the arena after the fight, Kao Roomchang waited for a ride to the cab stand, where the seven-hour taxi ride back to Anlong Veng awaited him. Famous or not, he had an English class to make at 8am Monday.



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