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Phon Phanna triumphs


Phon Phana (right) clinched the TV3 light-welterweight tournament title Saturday with a decision victory over Cheam Adam. Photo by: Sreng Meng Srun

Phon Phanna outclinched Cheam Adam in the later rounds to earn a victory decision in the final of the light-welterweight tournament at the TV3 boxing arena.

The pair spent nearly every second of the final three rounds on Saturday locked chest-to-chest and trading knees.

“It was the easiest way to fight,” said Phon Phanna, who after three debilitating battles to get to the final showed little interest in fighting another one.

The 21-year-old Koh Kong native took home a winning purse of US$600. Cheam Adam, 22, from Kampong Cham, earned $200.

The 63.5-kilogram bout was initially scheduled for September 4. It was postponed at the request of Phon Phanna, who said he was ill.

The delay sparked heated protest from Cheam Adam’s trainer, Sok Vichay, who argued that if Phon Phanna was unable to fight, Cheam Adam should be declared the winner. In the wake of the postponement, Sok Vichay refused to allow his man to fight, throwing the bout into question.

Sok Vichay eventually relented after talks with TV3 and the Cambodian Boxing Federation. After the fight, Cheam Adam said that the battles outside the ring had largely drained his interest. But, of the losing decision, he made no excuses.

“I could not beat him,” Cheam Adam said. “He was stronger.”

The pair started slowly in round one, with neither side doing much. They picked up the pace only slightly in round two. Phon Phanna landed the harder shots, and he appeared the better fighter.

With the opening bell in round three, Phon Phanna lunged into the clinch, where he stayed for the final three rounds, slowly wearing down Cheam Adam with knees to the body.

The low-wattage affair proved a modest conclusion to the round-robin tournament, which began in July with Phon Phanna, Cheam Adam, Van Chanvey and Nuon Phireak.

Phon Phanna and Cheam Adam met for the first time in the inaugural card of the contest. That fight, too, lasted five rounds, with Phon Phanna handing his opponent his only loss in the round-robin stage.

Cheam Adam rose to national attention as the first winner of the reality television series “Kun Khmer Champion,” produced by rival network CTN.

As a teenager, Phon Phanna moved to Thailand, where he spent several years fighting before returning home in December. In more than a dozen professional fights, including a handful against foreign opponents, he remains unbeaten.

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