Um Dara scored an impressive TKO victory at Bayon TV Sunday, stopping
current 67-kilogram title-holder May Sopheap with a cut to the eyebrow
in the third round of their non-title fight
May Sopheap (left, blue shorts) comes out swinging in the third round against Um Dara at Bayon TV Sunday.
FEW would mistake May Sopheap's profession after looking at his face.
The 25-year-old Battambang native carries the unmistakable mug of a brawler. His eyebrows flare on both sides, shredded with scars. A dark crescent curves across his right cheek and two thin arcs, both the result of elbows, rise from the middle of his brow like horns.
On Sunday, Um Dara added to the collection, opening a thick gash across the Battambang fighter's forehead with an elbow in the second round. Referee Tes Sarin stopped the fight in the third due to excessive bleeding, awarding Kampong Cham's Um Dara a TKO victory over May Sopheap, the current title-holder at 67 kilograms.
The Sunday bout, held at Bayon TV at 69 kilograms, was a non-title fight.
With the pace quickening in the second round, and the crowd clapping in rhythm to the music, 22-year-old Um Dara came charging in for the clinch behind three right elbows.
The first two missed as May Sopheap backpedaled into the ropes, but the final one connected, slashing a 2-inch cut high on the forehead of May Sopheap.
Referee Tes Sarin immediately stepped in to take a look. After a brief inspection he sent May Sopheap to the neutral corner to visit the fight doctor, who stanched the bleeding and dispatched the boxer back to work.
By then the round was gone, and May Sopheap returned to his stool, where his corner man slathered hair grease - a less-expensive substitute for petroleum jelly - into the gash.
With blood from the cut pouring into May Sopheap's right eye, hindering his vision, Um Dara knew a stoppage was in reach. So did May Sopheap.
When the bell rang both men unloaded at a furious pace. They traded punches and kicks and elbows and crashed into the clinch, where May Sopheap pummeled the body with knees and Um Dara tried to work the cut with a glove or an elbow.
The hair grease lasted about a second, and when the blood again started to leak from May Sopheap's face, Tes Sarin sent him back to the doctor, and a sense of inevitability settled into the arena.
After the rest, Um Dara came charging forward and connected with two hard right hands that buckled May Sopheap and, for an instant, looked as if he might go down.
May Sopheap managed to hang on, but blood was everywhere. All over his face. All over the canvass. And all over Um Dara, who was blinking and wiping his face frantically when Tes Sarin stopped the action once again and sent May Sopheap back to the doctor, who asked for the stoppage.
"His blood got in my eyes," Um Dara said after the fight.
The match marked the pair's fourth meeting. Their last bout came March 29, when Um Dara, standing in for an ill Nuon Soriya, beat May Sopheap on points. Um Dara's win Sunday moves the pair even with two victories each.
The win improves Um Dara's record to 51-5 while May Sopheap drops to 48-9-2.
Um Dara fights again Sunday in the main event at CTN, where he is scheduled to face Pov Saksith from the Ministry of Interior boxing club.