Two of the most explosive fighters in the lightweight division will face each other Sunday when Kao Roomchang takes on Van Chanvey at the CTN boxing arena. The match is part of an eight-man, round-robin tournament to determine a challenger for the 60-kilogram title.
"I'm 80 percent certain I can win," said Van Chanvey, sipping on a bottle of Cola after a recent workout session. Both natives of Battambang, Van Chanvey, 23, and Kao Roomchang, 21, are widely regarded as the No 2 and No 3 fighters in the tournament, respectively, behind top-ranked contender Long Sophy.
Van Chanvey says he began fighting at the age of 15. After two years on the village circuit, he moved to Phnom Penh in 2003, where he settled in at Club Preah Khan Reach under the tutelage of head trainer Trueng Sossay.
In his first fight of the tournament July 19, Van Chanvey, known for dangerous elbows and a hard-charging fighting style, stopped fellow Battambang native Bheut Bunthoeun in the third round.
In the second round Van Chanvey had opened up a long, deep gash under the left eye of Bheut Bunthoeun with an elbow, and a devastating knee to the head early in the third round prompted cornerman Nuon Soriya to throw in the towel.
"That guy could fight anywhere in the world," said Paddy Carson, president of ISKA Cambodia, who was watching the fight ringside, adding that the top domestic fighters are at international standard.
Van Chanvey's opponent on Sunday, Kao Roomchang, is just as dangerous.
He came into the tournament riding a wave of top-notch wins, including decision victories over No 1-ranked lightweight contender Long Sophy, lightweight titlist Lao Sinath, and all-star veteran Nuon Soriya.
In his first fight of the tournament, Kao Roomchang put Vung Noy on the canvass twice, once in the second round and once in the fourth, during an electrifying victory performance.
Kao Roomchang and Van Chanvey share very similar fighting styles, and both are known for their superb fitness, incredible work rates, and knockout power. Their collision in the lightweight tournament easily carries the potential for fight-of-the-year status.
Fights begin at 2pm Sunday at the CTN boxing arena.