en Bunthen outpointed Thun Sophea on Friday night at the TV5 boxing arena in Takhmao to reaffirm his position at the top of the light-middleweight division.
After a slow start, Sen Bunthen took the later rounds and the fight with hard knees and superior clinch work.
“I lost it on knees [in the clinch],” Thun Sophea said.
Among the best in the light-middleweight division, the pair have met three times previously. Thun Sophea, from Svay Rieng, won the initial meeting, a July 2009 contest at the CTN boxing arena.
Three months later, Sen Bunthen suffered a badly dislocated left shoulder, throwing his career into question. He underwent surgery in March. The procedure, known as a Bankart repair, has allowed him to return to the ring.
After a warm-up outing against Vung Sithai in August, Sen Bunthen climbed into the ring against Thun Sophea for the second time September 10, and won by decision.
On Friday, in similar fashion to the fight two weeks ago, Thun Sophea staked an early lead with hard kicks to the body. He landed a spine-jarring one-two in the second round that sent Sen Bunthen reeling backward, followed with a straight right that drove him into the ropes.
The thin holiday crowd roared, sensing an upset.
But if Sen Bunthen was hurt, he didn’t show it. And after a close third, he turned up the pace for the final two rounds, landing the harder kicks and overpowering Thun Sophea in the clinch.