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Kao Roomchang scores upset

Kao Roomchang scores upset

Kao Roomchang outgunned Lao Sinath at TV5 Sunday, scoring an eight count in the second round on his way to earning a decision victory in the main event.

Photo by:
Robert Starkweather

Lao Sinath (left, blue) battles back from an 8-count in the second round of his fight against Kao Roomchang at TV5 boxing arena Sunday.

BEHIND two fists and six pieces of magic candy, Kao Roomchang scored the biggest victory of his career over the weekend, upsetting 60-kilogram titlist Lao Sinath in the main event at TV5 Sunday.

Kao Roomchang scored an eight count with a flurry of punches early in the second round and easily outpointed the champion through five to earn a convincing decision victory.

Phnom Penh odds makers had predicted a much different outcome to Sunday's non-title bout, offering Lao Sinath as a 3-10 favourite at the opening bell. But Kao Roomchang, a Battambang native and soldier with Brigade 43 in Anlong Veng, arrived with plans of his own.

"Punches and kicks," Kao Roomchang said of his strategy. And magic candy.

In the dressing room before the fight, Kao Roomchang bit the wrapper corners off six pieces of coffee-flavoured candy his trainer had blessed and given him. Holding the candy loosely in his left hand, his whispered his own incantation into his fist and then one by one squeezed the pieces into his mouth. "For good luck," he said.

In the opening minute of the second round, Kao Roomchang connected cleanly to Lao Sinath's chin with a looping right-hand punch - something between an overhand right and a schoolyard hook. The punch sent Lao Sinath backpedaling into the ropes.

As Kao Roomchang barreled in after him, Lao Sinath tried to escape down the ropes, but an unrelenting Kao Roomchang stalked him into the neutral corner.

With no place left to run, Lao Sinath and Kao Roomchang stood on each other's toes and tried to put the other man to sleep.

Kao Roomchang, 21, landed the first clean shot, a hard right hand that stunned Lao Sinath.

Kampong Speu native Lao Sinath fought back with straight punches and elbows, but the sneaky Kao Roomchang slipped and countered, then landed another right, and then a hard right-left combination that prompted referee Chaum Chaury to step in and give the eight count.

"Bop! Bop! Bop!" Lao Sinath said after the fight, whipping his head from side to side with each word as he recounted the exchange. "My head was spinning."

Photo by:
Robert Starkweather

Kao Roomchang from Battambang binds his hands in preparation for Sunday's fight.

It was a stunning turnaround from events just a round earlier.

In the first round, Lao Sinath looked completely dominant. He used his jab and his reach to keep Kao Roomchang on the outside. Behind the jab, he scored with low kicks and knees and then moved away. By late in the round, Lao Sinath was landing stiff jabs so cleanly and easily the crowd broke out in laughter.

Even after the knockdown, Lao Sinath mostly fought well.

In the fourth round he pummeled Kao Roomchang with four hard knees and twice cut him with elbows - one a razor-thin cut on the left eyelid and the other a deep cut on the head.

"From the left, bang! From the right, bang!" Kao Roomchang said after the fight. "It will need stitches," he added, pointing to the cut on his head.

Although Lao Sinath landed nearly as many shots as did Kao Roomchang during the seesaw five-round battle, ultimately the difference appeared to lie in the power.

Kao Roomchang weighed in at 63 kilograms for a fight announced at 63.5. Lao Sinath weighed in at just 60 kilograms, and the champ's punches never seemed to land with the same ferocity as his opponent's.

A spinning back-kick that caught Lao Sinath flush on the jaw in the third surely did not help, either. The kick probably would have ended the fight had it not come so late.

Lao Sinath pulled himself up and stumbled back to his corner. Referee Chaum Chaury wagged his finger at Kao Roomchang. But the damage was done.

With the victory, Kao Roomchang improves to 25-5-2. Lao Sinath drops to 44-4.

Talk of a rematch surfaced in the second round, but no date has been announced.

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