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Prize fight inaugurates casino

Vorn Viva will face Dominik Zidov Friday in the main event of opening night fights, including four international boxing bouts, at Titan King Casino in Bavet

Photo by: Robert Starkweather
Swiss-Croat fighter Dominik Zidov rose to fame on the kickboxing reality TV series The Contender Asia.

ISKA world middleweight champion Vorn Viva will face Muay Thai bad boy Dominik Zidov of Switzerland Friday in a non-title fight at the Titan King Casino in Bavet, Svay Rieng.

The fight card, the highlight of the casino’s opening-night gala, includes four international and two local bouts. In addition to the main event, England’s Jason Woodham and Danny Taylor will take on local legends Thun Sophea and Nuon Soriya respectively, and Poland’s Raphael Simonides will face Lao Sinath.

All four fight out of the WMC Lamai camp in Koh Samui, Thailand.

Zidov replaces England’s Charlie Gillespie, who was originally scheduled to face Vorn Viva for a second time. Tendonitis of the knee sidelined Gillespie last week, forcing him out of the fight.

“My knee is bad,” Gillespie said in a recent email. “I damaged it in training but kept going on it. Then I got kicked on it again, which put me in the hospital.”

Dominik Zidov, Gillespie’s replacement, rose to worldwide popularity as the likable rogue in The Contender Asia’s first season. He has fought in Cambodia before, in August, when he lost a decision to Thun Sophea on the same night that Vorn Viva first beat Gillespie.

Two weeks before the Thun Sophea fight, Zidov was involved in a motorcycle accident that left him with dozens of stitches in the head and foot and prevented him from training.

“The last time when I fought Sophea, it was not a difficult fight for me. But I was not fit,” Zidov said during a recent email exchange. “Now I am fit. I can show what I am capable of. Even if I am smaller than Viva, I will not make it easy for him.”

Zidov typically fights around 68-70 kilograms. He faces Vorn Viva at 73 kilograms. “That’s weight up for sure,” he remarked.

Vorn Viva, a native of Kampong Cham, has fought only sporadically since beating Alban Ahmedi of Kosovo in August 2008 to win the ISKA world middleweight title. Few local fighters dare face him, and his rare ring appearances typically have come against overseas opponents. His last international fight was the decision win over Gillespie.

“He was good,” Vorn Viva said recently of Gillespie, who bloodied the champion’s nose in the fifth. “But I had not fought in a long time before that match. It was only an average performance for me.”

A long spell of inactivity again will be following Vorn Viva when he steps into the ring Friday. He has fought only once since beating Gillespie.

In a January tune-up bout, the 24-year-old went five rounds with Brigade 70 veteran Long Sophal. That outing looked more like a training session than a competitive kickboxing match, and Vorn Viva toyed with a wildly overmatched opponent.

The crowd loved it, but as preparation for the crucible of the boxing ring, it was no substitute for quality rounds.

Unlike the Cambodian champion, Zidov, who turns 30 in April, says he has been fighting about once a month to stay sharp, and heads into Friday’s bout high on confidence. “I’m living with Charlie [Gillespie] here in Samui, and he told me that [Viva] is strong but can be beaten,” he revealed.

“I think it will be a fight of the heart. Whoever has the stronger heart will win.”

Zidov expects victory, so he can move on to the unfinished business from his last trip. “What I want is a rematch with Thun Sophea,” he said.
In the two local bouts, Cheam Adam will take on Sam Ounluong for a second time, and Um Dara will square off with Voey Sothun.

Cheam Adam came back from a second-round knockdown to score a thrilling third-round knockout in the pair’s first meeting in August. Both fighters are products of CTN’s reality television series “Kun Khmer Champion”. Cheam Adam won first place in the show’s inaugural season. Sam Ounluong was the winner of season two.

CTN will broadcast the fights live from Bavet.

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