Sarim Vonthon (red) beat Ung Borim, Tim San and Meas Socheat on Friday night at the CTN boxing arena to win the station’s first Super 8 tournament. Photo by: Robert Starkweather
Eight fighters. Seven fights. Only one winner.
The CTN boxing arena shook up its regular Friday night fight card with the introduction of a “Super 8” format on Friday. In the final, Sarim Vonthon caught Meas Socheat with a straight left in the second round to cap the night with a knockout.
“It couldn’t have ended any better,” said Paddy Carson, the card’s sponsor, sitting ringside.
Sarim Vonthon pocketed US$600 for a little more than seven rounds worth of work. Meas Socheat, who was still flat on the canvas when referee Meas Sokry counted ten, took home $500.
In Carson’s “Super 8” format, bouts comprise of three 3-minute rounds, with two-minute rests in between. Winners advance; losers are eliminated.
Meas Socheat’s night started out anything but auspicious, and he squeaked through the tournament’s opening fight largely by the grace of a bad decision.
Meas Socheat faced Vireak Sothy, formerly known as Phan Sothy, who scored a second-round knockdown with a series of devastating punches late in the round. Then, in the final seconds before the bell, Meas Socheat crumbled to the canvas under another flurry of punches to the head and knees to the body. Only the bell saved him.
But Meas Socheat had won the first round, and he came back to win the third, making for what should have been an even fight.
“But you can’t have a draw,” said Ma Serey, director of sports at CTN. And despite the knockdown, the tie went to the favourite.
Elsewhere, My Socheat scored a first-round knockdown with a straight right hand on his way toward beating Khon Reach, CTN’s current 63.5-kilogram champion. Sarim Vonthon earned the decision over Ung Borim, and Tim San, formerly known as Seung Kangsan, outpointed the hard-charging rising star Mun Seyla.
Ma Serey selected the eight pugilists, many of whom came from the upper ranks of the station’s reality television series Kun Khmer Champion.
In the semifinals, Sarim Vonthon beat Tim San, who under his previous name had placed second in the first season of KKC.
Meas Socheat, the second-place finisher in KKC III, defeated the heavy-handed My Socheat in his semifinal match.
The three-round, eight-man format is not new to Cambodia. Thai fight promoter Songchai Ratanasuban held an eight-man “S1” tournament in 2005, and another one a year later.
The shortened format surely makes for faster-paced fights. With so few minutes to work, fighters waste no time feeling each other out, or cruising through the final round.
“It was exciting all night,” Carson said. “I’m definitely going to do another one.”