Prom Samnang became just the second Cambodian boxer after Thoeun Theara to claim a major fight in Bangkok. The Kun Khmer exponent utilised a powerful knee strike to score a technical knockout (TKO) over British three-time champion Thomas Carpenter in their international friendly on February 5.

The victory raised eyebrows among aficionados of the sport, with Samnang dispatching the favourite in the 78kg class in just under two minutes.

The well-regarded Carpenter has previously claimed three titles in Thailand, most notable the International Boxing Federation (IBF) Muay Thai title in 2018, and the Max Muay Thai belt in 2016.

On this occasion, however, Samnang gave the Englishman little chance to gather any momentum in the fight, keeping him at bay with a rapid series of kicks and elbows. Once Samnang saw an opportunity to unleash a close-in knee strike, Carpenter collapsed to the mat in visible pain, and was unable, or unwilling, to restart the match.

Following the match, Samnang claimed that the first round TKO was not by accident, but by design.

“My manager at the kickboxing federation has kept me in the gym working hard with no distractions. I have been doing nothing but building my strength and focussing my aggression, so I was always hopeful I could claim a knockout,” he said.

The victory, reminiscent of Theara’s December 25 first round victory over boxer Saiyok Sakchainrong in the first round of the King Thai Fight, earned Samnang a huge popularity boost among rapturous Cambodian fans.

Theara’s victory led to lucrative sponsorship offers and gifts of land.

“This victory has made me happy beyond compare. I want to thank my coaches and the staff at the kickboxing federation for giving me the mental strength to compete at this level and I want to thank the fans of Khmer boxing for their passionate support,” said Samnang.

Heng Sokhorn, the president of the Cambodian Kickboxing Federation, led the Kingdom’s delegation to the event, and witnessed the dramatic win.

“This victory was the result of hard work and intense training. It will inspire the federation and the Kun Khmer national team to train even harder in preparation for this year’s SEA Games,” he said.

“We have to make our boxers stronger. I want to thank all of the fans, and I know that you will all be screaming support for Samnang when chases heavyweight gold at the games,” he added.