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Bheut Bunthoeun wins at last

Bheut Bunthoeun wins at last

Song Saruth (left) lost by fifth-round TKO due to a cut over his left eye, inflicted by a second-round elbow from Bheut Bunthoeun in their tournament bout Sunday.

Bheut Bunthoeun finally records a victory in the CTN lightweight tournament Sunday thanks to an elbow that cut Song Saruth’s head, leading to stoppage

IN the closing seconds of round two, Bheut Bunthoeun faked with a left jab and exploded with a vicious right elbow, ripping open a thick gash on the forehead of Song Saruth.

The din of the crowd boiled to a thunder as deep crimson oozed from the wound. In Song Saruth’s bloody face, Battambang fighter Bheut Bunthoeun, mired deep in a six-fight losing streak, saw not just victory but validation.

The cut forced referee Sok Vichay to stop the fight in the fifth round and gave Bheut Bunthoeun his first victory of the lightweight tournament Sunday at the CTN boxing arena.

It was Bheut Bunthoeun’s seventh and final fight of the contest, and his last chance to erase the zero marring his win column.

“Six fights, six losses,” said Bheut Bunthoeun’s trainer, Nuon Soriya, sitting on a weather-beaten bench in the changing area before the fight.

Along with sore shins and a bruised body, the six losses had battered Bheut Bunthoeun’s confidence, and ahead of Sunday’s bout he wondered whether victory was possible.

“They are all stronger than me,” Bheut Bunthoeun conceded. “I cannot beat them.” He tried to bury those doubts Sunday.

Through the first two rounds, Bheut Bunthoeun held near total control of the fight. He was landing the harder kicks and practically pot-shotting Song Saruth with hooks when he connected with the right elbow late in the second.

The cut turned the five-round bout into a race against time for Song Saruth. With blood in his eye, the referee or doctor could stop the fight at any moment.

Song Saruth came charging at a furious pace in the third round, firing relentless combinations and stalking Bheut Bunthoeun around the ring.

Bheut Bunthoeun made him pay for the graceless advances, catching him with hooks and elbows and smashing him with uppercuts as he lunged in headlong.

But Bheut Bunthoeun struggled at times to keep up with the murderous pace, and Song Saruth had moments in the third and fourth when wresting control of the fight looked possible.

Whatever momentum he could build, however, was cut short by trips to the doctor to re-examine the cut. And 90 seconds into round five, in what would have been his third visit to the doctor, Sok Vichay waived the fight over.

“My hooks were really working for me today,” Bheut Bunthoeun said afterward.

With only one victory each, neither fighter will advance to the semifinals. After seven fights in 12 weeks, Bheut Bunthoeun says his body is bruised and battered, hoping to take some time off to recover. “But if my trainer tells me to fight, I will fight,” he assured.

Van Chanvey continued to lay waste to the lightweight tournament field Sunday, nearly breaking Nuon Mony’s arm in the second round to record his fifth TKO in seven tournament fights.

With just seconds gone in the round, Nuon Mony dropped his arm limply and winced in pain after blocking a right roundhouse kick. Although he managed to beat the count, the same kick two minutes later sent him to the hospital for X-rays.

With just one week left in the eight-man round-robin tournament which began July 19, Kao Roomchang, Van Chanvey, Long Sophy and Vung Noy are guaranteed to advance to the semifinals, although Sunday’s bout between unbeaten Kao Roomchang and Long Sophy (5-1) could potentially reshuffle the standings.

A loss to Long Sophy would drop Kao Roomchang into second place behind Van Chanvey. The overall tournament winner will fight Lao Sinath for the 60-kilogram title.