LES Tuk had one word for Long Sophy on Sunday.
“Enough,” he said, as the seconds ticked away in the final round of the pair’s do-or-die light-middleweight tournament bout at the TV5 boxing arena in Takhmao.
Long Sophy stopped briefly, apparently caught off guard by the concession, then chased Les Tuk across the ring with a flurry of punches and knees, prompting referee Troueng Sossay to give Les Tuk a standing eight count. But Les Tuk, as he had indicated seconds earlier, wanted no more of Long Sophy. He declined to continue, handing Long Sophy the victory by fifth-round TKO.
The stoppage capped an impressive three-round charge.
Les Tuk had easily won the first two rounds, and he appeared to have Long Sophy figured out. Fighting from the back foot, Les Tuk waited for Long Sophy to attack and then countered, scoring with hard low kicks and three-punch combinations.
The strategy worked through the first six minutes, and Long Sophy appeared headed toward defeat.
“He’s going to lose,” said Long Sophy’s trainer, Long Salavorn, who was ringside taping the fight.
But Long Sophy turned up the intensity in the third round, and Les Tuk struggled under the pace. He stalked Les Tuk around with ring, firing four-punch combinations and following up with knees to the body, the sparse Sunday crowd roaring behind each blow.
By the fourth round, Long Sophy was chasing an evasive Les Tuk across the canvas. And as the knees began to add up, and Les Tuk started to tire, Long Sophy landed clean punches and flush knees with greater frequency.
The punishment continued in the fifth round until finally, as Les Tuk became unable to defend himself, Troeung Sossay stepped in. With just seconds left in the round, Les Tuk dropped his chin to his chest and returned to the red corner.
And Long Sophy began thinking about Kao Roomchang, whom he faces next.
In the second tournament fight on the card, Pom Saray bloodied Nuon Phireak’s nose in the fifth round with punches on his way to scoring his third decision victory of the tournament.
The bout held little significance. Pom Saray had already clinched a spot in the semifinals, and Nuon Phireak, winless in two fights heading into Sunday’s bout, had no chance of advancing.
The eight-man light-middleweight tournament began January 10. Sunday’s matches completed the group stages. Long Sophy will join Pom Saray, Kao Roomchang and Kao Bunheng in the semifinal stage.
The semifinal round is scheduled for Sunday March 7, when Long Sophy will face Kao Roomchang, and Pom Saray will go against Kao Bunheng.