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Locals go 2-1 in Om Tuk card

Cambodian kickboxing legend Nuon Soriya comes up short against Japan’s Yukiya Nakamura; Bheut Kam, Thun Sophea both score decisive victories


THE cut on Harlee Avison’s nose was still fresh when he entered the ring Friday night against Bheut Kam. The stitches had come out just days earlier.

The gash gave Bheut Kam a target, and within seconds of the opening bell he whipped Avison’s head back with a straight left hand flush to the nose.

Nearly 1,500 enthusiastic Kun Khmer fans packed Old Stadium on Friday night for TV5’s annual Bon Om Tuk fight card, which this year included three international and five local bouts.

In the international features, Thun Sophea smashed Muhammed Nsugbuga of Uganda with low kicks to score an effortless first-round TKO, Nuon Soriya lost by majority decision to Yukiya Nakamura of Japan and Bheut Kam beat Harlee Avison by unanimous decision.

“Shit fight,” said Avison afterwards, the sting of defeat unmistakable on his face.

The 18-year-old from Cairns, Australia, trains out of Promthep Camp in Phuket, Thailand.

He typically fights with his father Wayne and his uncle Danny working the corner.

But Harlee flew to Cambodia with only Thai fight promoters, and the men in his corner Friday night were practically strangers.
Without his family for support, the young Avison said he struggled.

“You’re a bit more motivated, a bit more enthusiastic with friends and family in the corner,” he said.

“Here you feel like you’re fighting alone. You just want to get it over with.”

Encouraged by Avison’s lackluster performance, Bheut Kam, 22, put on a kickboxing clinic, scoring easily with hard punches to the body and vicious elbows.

By round five, he was landing five- and six-punch combinations unanswered and egging Avison on.

The Australian occasionally showed hints of power, and he shook Bheut Kam a few times with strong kicks.

He never appeared in any trouble, even after taking some incredibly hard elbows.

But he just never worked enough to be competitive in the fight.

“I could have kicked more, could have kneed more,” he conceded.

In the second co-feature of the night, 21-year-old Yukiya Nakamura of Tokyo came on strong in rounds four and five to steal the decision from Nuon Soriya, who had dominated rounds one, two and three.

“I did not think I could lose,” said Nuon Soriya, the 29-year-old veteran, afterward.

“I won rounds one, two, three and four.”

Of the five ringside judges, only one scored the fight in favor of Nuon Soriya, who while commanding the first three rounds, began to visibly tire in the fourth and appeared absolutely exhausted in the fifth.

In the third co-feature, Thun Sopea dismissed a badly overmatched Muhammad Nsubuga with low kicks, scoring three knockdowns in less than 90 seconds of the first round.

“I could feel the pain,” said Nsubuga afterward, poking gingerly at his left hamstring. “I thought it was going to break.”

Nsubuga, predominantly an English boxer, took the fight on short notice.

He was filling in for a Russian fighter listed only as “Mitery”, who did not appear for unspecified reasons.

Thun Sophea himself was filling in for Sen Bunthen, who was out of the country.

In the five local matches, Mtes Kmang drew against Rith Kao, Khan Sovan beat Lim Bunna on points, Chim Sarath dropped a decision to Cheng Rithy, Sarim Vonthon outpointed Bheut Bunthoeun and Les Tuk earned a decision over Him Saram.

Prime Minister Hun Sen gave US$1,000 to each fighter in the international bouts and $500 to the 10 local fighters on the undercard.



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