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Zidov lasts five with Vorn Viva

Local fighters go 4-0 with two knockouts in an international card to celebrate opening of Titan King Casino, including a points victory for champion Vorn Viva

VORN Viva knocked down a bloody Dominik Zidov in the fifth round on his way to earning a unanimous decision victory Friday night at the Titan King Casino in Bavet, Svay Reing province.

The fight capped a multi-million-dollar gala to celebrate the grand opening of the casino, and a thousand VIPs from around the country joined several thousand more local fans for the star-studded event, which included a pop concert and fireworks display in addition to four international and two local bouts.

In the main event of the evening, Zidov and Vorn Viva thrilled spectators with several toe-to-toe exchanges, and both fighters wobbled each other more than once during the five-round fight.

In a furious second-round flurry of punches, Zivov, 29, landed a big left hand that buckled the champ’s knees.

“I got him with some good punches. He was dizzy,” said Zidov, the 29-year-old Swiss-Croatian fighter who rose to international fame on The Contender Asia reality series. “But I was also dizzy.”

While Zidov had his moments, Vorn Viva, 24, took control of the fight early and never let up. By the end of second round, Zidov was clearly behind on points and struggling to overcome Vorn Viva’s size and strength advantage.

Zidov typically fights at 67 kilograms, and over the last week he had packed on an extra five kilograms, mostly around the mid-section, for the Friday night fight.

“This boy [Viva] is so heavy,” said Zidov after the second round.

“So are you,” shot back Jason Woodham, Zidov’s teammate who was standing in his corner. “Now quit [messing] about and get in there and hurt him.”

Even at 67 kilograms, Zidov possesses knockout power, and the promise of a sudden stoppage lurked throughout the fight. Or so it seemed.

“I caught him with a high kick, and he just looked at me,” Zidov said of a kick that has knocked out several previous opponents. “I think if you hit him with a hammer he will just smile at you.”

Vorn Viva took Zidov’s best shots and retaliated with his own. Late in the fourth, he stunned Zidov with an uppercut and chased him into the corner with a series of elbows at the bell.

Midway through the fifth, Vorn Viva connected with a clean right elbow, opening up a slight cut across the bridge of Zidov’s nose. Seconds later, he opened up a bigger cut on Zidov’s head with an elbow from the left.

“He got me with an elbow in the last round,” Zidov said. “He was hunting for it all night.”

With the cut on his head pouring blood, referee Sok Vichay sent Zidov to the corner to see the doctor, who mopped up the blood and returned him to the ring.

Vorn Viva continued with a hard left to the chin, followed by a straight right hand to the jaw.

Zidov answered with a wild left, but the champ slipped and fired another hard left that caught Zidov flush on the chin, followed by another straight right that sent Zidov into the ropes and down to the canvas.

Blood spilled from the cut on Zidov’s head as referee Sok Vichay counted to eight.

Vorn Viva stood in the neutral corner and smiled, his blue gloves covered in red blood.

Zidov bent his head forward and tried to keep the blood from getting in his eyes, then raised his gloves defiantly.

Sok Vichay sent him back to the doctor, who again cleaned away the blood. As the pair stepped back to center ring, the crowd roared with expectation.

Vorn Viva planted his feet and unloaded with a left-right that spun Zidov 180 degrees. Zidov answered with a left to the temple, then a thunderous right that caught the champ flush on the chin.

Standing toe-to-toe at center ring again, the pair stood and slugged until the final bell, each man catching the other with head-snapping punches, blood and sweat flying across the ring as thousands of fans screamed into the cool midnight air.

“He has a very hard head,” Zidov said. “I caught him with an elbow, but all that happened was I hurt my elbow.”

In the earlier fights, Thun Sophea stopped England’s Jason Woodham in the third with low kicks. Nuon Soriya cut Danny Taylor, also from England, early in the third round on his way toward a decision victory. And Lao Sinath scored four knockdowns against Poland’s Raphael Simonides on his way toward earning a third-round stoppage.

“Was it a good fight?” asked Simonides after the bout. “That’s the most important thing.”

In the two local bouts, Cheam Adam outpointed Sam Ounluong, and Vouey Sothun, although penalized for a late hit in the third round, earned the decision over Um Dara.



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