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Outh Phouthang wins return

Outh Phouthang begins his comeback from suspension with a decision victory over fellow boxing veteran Vung Sithai at TV5 boxing arena in Takhmao Sunday

Photo by: Robert Starkweather
Outh Phouthang (left) from Koh Kong province is 29-years-old with the impressive career record of 220-37-2.

OUTH Phouthang returned triumphantly to the ring Sunday, turning in a skillful if somewhat rusty performance to earn a victory decision over Brigade 70 veteran Vung Sithai at the TV5 boxing arena in Takhmao.

Among the sport’s all-time greats, 29-year-old Outh Phouthang was suspended indefinitely in July last year, along with Chey Kosal and brothers Pich Sophan and Pich Seiha for fighting overseas without the permission of the country’s national boxing federation, known then as the Cambodian Amateur Boxing Federation.

The word “amateur” has since been dropped, and the association now includes professional boxing.

The group elected a new president, Tem Moeun, in December, and under his leadership the association quickly began working to overturn the ban imposed by previous director Oum Yourann.

Pich Seiha returned to boxing February 20, scoring a decision victory over Chan Ratana from the CMAC Boxing Club. His older brother Pich Sophan made his comeback last Friday night, losing a decision to Kao Lek from the Brigade 70 Boxing Club. Chey Kosal climbed back into the ring Saturday, outpointing Long Sophal, also from Brigade 70.

Sunday’s return to the ring marked Outh Phouthang’s first local appearance since April 2009, when he lost a decision to Sen Bunthen. He has not fought since July 11, when he stopped Parviz Iskenderov of Belarus in a bout in Australia, an outing for which he was subsequently suspended.
“It’s been a long time,” he said.

Just enough to get the win
Always a patient fighter, Outh Phouthang (220-37-2) started timidly Sunday. He did enough to earn the win, but little else, and throughout the middle rounds his corner and coach clamoured for more.

“Fight!” screamed his mother, who had drifted from her ringside seat to the red corner in the fourth, as Vung Sithai, 27, thundered away with punches.

Chhit Sarim, Outh Phouthang’s trainer at the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces club, shouted similar, albeit slightly less motherly, words of encouragement.

Known for heavy hands, Vung Sithai (102-17-10) came out headhunting in each of the five rounds, catching Outh Phouthang with head-rattling combinations throughout.

“He’s short, but really strong,” Outh Phouthang said. “I cannot match his strength.”

Early in the fourth, the Brigade 70 veteran appeared to have Outh Phouthang in trouble.

“The people watching thought he was going to knock you out,” revealed Outh Phouthang’s corner man to him after the fight. “I was scared, too.”

Outh Phouthang, however, does not scare easily. If he was hurt, he never showed it. And even after weathering a dozen big bombs, he never lost his patience.

Same as he had done in previous rounds, Outh Phouthang began countering Vung Sithai’s punches with knees. And as the round wore on, and Vung Sithai slowed down, Outh Phouthang leaned headlong into the clinch where he easily outmanoeuvred his shorter opponent and scored with knees to the body.

Midway through the round it was Vung Sithai in trouble. Outh Phouthang gripped him firmly around the neck, then in one fluid motion pulled his head down while at the same time raising his own knee.

Yet instead of delivering a vicious knee to the skull, Outh Phouthang tapped Vung Sithai lightly on the forehead, then pushed him away and flashed a playful grin.

As referee Long Salavorn raised Outh Phouthang’s hand in victory, Vung Sithai appeared disappointed, but the better fighter was obvious.

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