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Van Chanvey, Phon Phanna draw first blood in tourney

Photo by: Robert Starkweather
Van Chanvey (right) smashed Nuon Phireak with a low kick late in the fourth, splitting open Nuon Phireak’s shin and forcing an end to the fight.

Van Chanvey and Phon Phanna both claimed victories in a bloody opening weekend to the four-man light-welterweight tournament at TV3 boxing arena.

Battambang powerhouse Van Chanvey scored the first TKO of the round-robin contest Saturday, stopping Banteay Meanchey’s Nuon Phireak, who declined to continue after the fourth round. A low kick from Van Chanvey in the final seconds of that four opened a long, bloody gash down Nuon Phireak’s right shin, forcing him to abandon the fight.

The pair had met three times previously.

“I’ve always won,” said Nuon Phireak, 25, ahead of the bout. “But this time I am not so sure. I haven’t fought in a long time.”

Nuon Phireak’s last ring appearance, a losing effort against Pom Saray, came in February in an eight-man title tournament at the TV5 boxing arena in Takhmao.

Working at a measure pace Saturday, 22-year-old Van Chanvey stalked Nuon Phireak around the ring through all four rounds, patiently chopping away with kicks to the legs and body. He landed several hard punches in the second, catching Nuon Phireak against the ropes and in the corners several times throughout the middle rounds.

Nuon Phireak answered with hard kicks from both sides. He tied up well in the clinch and managed to stay out of trouble, but never landed any big shots either, emerging as the unlikely winner when the fight was called after the fourth.

In the co-feature, Phon Phanna cut Cheam Adam twice with elbows in a fifth-round charge to clinch a narrow decision victory.

Showing healthy respect for each other, the two fought tentatively through the opening rounds, and the fight was largely even until late in the fourth.

With just over a minute left in the round, Kampong Cham native Cheam Adam appeared to hurt Koh Kong’s Phon Phanna with a knee.

The crowd thundered and for several long seconds an upset appeared possible.

But Phon Phanna came roaring back in the final minute to draw even, scoring with knees in the clinch.

The two battled furiously through the fifth in another very close round, and the two cuts likely made the difference in the round and the fight.

The next tournament bouts are scheduled for Saturday August 7, when Van Chanvey faces Cheam Adam, and Phon Phanna squares off against Nuon Phireak.

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