Inspired Outh Phouthong turned in one of the finest boxing performances in recent memory but still could not manage to beat Sen Bunthen at TV5 Sunday
Sen Bunthen (left, red shorts) kicks Outh Phouthong in the third round of their highly anticipated rematch Sunday at TV5 Arena.
SEN Bunthen electrified a standing-room only crowd and confirmed his place among boxing's elite with a third-round knockdown and eventual decision victory over Outh Phouthong at TV5 Sunday.
Fighting at 69 kilograms, the two top-ranked fighters traded knockdowns in a furious, high-wattage third round, but a punched-out Outh Phouthong faded down the stretch, with Sen Bunthen continuing to pummel him with right hands until the final bell.
The decision marks Outh Phouthong's second consecutive loss to Sen Bunthen. Their first match came on March 29, when Kampong Cham's Sen Bunthen shocked the boxing world with a stunning upset decision over one of the sport's all-time greats.
However, Outh Phouthong had excuses for that loss. He had been hit by a car a week earlier. The accident sliced open his left knee and badly bruised his thigh.
"I was injured last time," Outh Phouthong said of the first bout. "I was hurt and I was on medication, so I could not train properly."
Typically a slow starter, Koh Kong's Outh Phouthong opened the early rounds with hard shots, and many foresaw a day of comeuppance for the brash young Sen Bunthen.
Working off an impressive second round, Outh Phouthong was pushing forward early in the third when Sen Bunthen dropped him with a straight right hand.
"He hit me right behind the ear," Outh Phouthong said after the fight, rubbing the spot on his head. "The whole room was spinning."
The punch collapsed Outh Phouthong's legs and put him flat on his backside, where he sat for a second before climbing to his feet.
"Are you okay?" Shouted his brother and trainer Ei Phouthong, who was standing ringside.
Outh Phouthong turned to his brother with a savage, wild-eyed glare, raised his fists in the air, and roared. Then he went on a rampage, turning in one of the finest boxing performances in recent memory.
He charged forward with a left-right-kick combination that sent Sen Bunthen backpedalling. As his opponent sunk into the ropes, Outh Phouthong smashed him with a flying elbow.
Outh Phouthong tapes his hands in the TV5 Arena dressing room before his bout with Sen Bunthen Sunday.
Sen Bunthen tried to slip away but was caught with a roundhouse which pushed him into the neutral corner. Outh Phouthong then drove a knee through the crumpling fighter's body.
Sen Bunthen punched back and tried to escape down the ropes, but Outh Phouthong stopped him again with another roundhouse, then connected with a spinning elbow, then another.
Seconds later, a similar exchange on the opposite side of the ring ended with an elbow that buckled Sen Bunthen and a knee that sent him tumbling though the ropes just as the bell rang.
Referee Trueng Sossay stepped in to give the eight count as Sen Bunthen laid on the apron outside the ring, a glove over his face and a leg still hanging off the ropes. He struggled back to his feet to beat the eight count, then collapsed onto his stool.
"I thought I had him in the third round," Sen Bunthen said afterwards. "For a moment I though I could knock him out, but he came back. He came back strong."
Trying to end it, Outh Phouthong continued charging in the fourth round, but Sen Bunthen weathered the early onslaught and fought back as the fatigued Koh Kong fighter began to fade late in the round.
By round five, Outh Phouthong had all but punched himself out, and Sen Bunthen, who had fought a conservative fourth round, began to retake control of the fight, scoring with elbows and landing head-snapping right hand bombs.
As the fifth round ended, Sen Bunthen caught a roundhouse and landed a final-straight right hand that sent Outh Phouthong back to the canvass, as much from exhaustion as from force.
"I'm truly spent," Outh Phouthong said as he shuffled back to the changing room after the fight.
This time he had no excuses.
"He was catching me with the right hand all night," he said.