Thai boxer Sami Banchamek has refused to accept his points decision loss to Cambodian fighter Thoeun Theara, drawing heated reactions from local fans.

The March 18 bout was part of the National Television of Cambodia (TVK) Fighter event in Poipet town of Banteay Meanchey province.

Theara and Sami were both conscious of the fact that their previous bout ended in a drawn points decision, with the pair feeling each other out through the first rounds.

The lack of willingness to engage closely meant there was little chance for either man to employ their heavy knee strikes and look for a knockout.

Theara began to emerge as the aggressor through the middle of the five-round bout, with Sami appearing standoffish and unwilling to brawl with his Cambodian opponent.

In the final round, the different mindsets of the two pugilists became clearer, with Theara chasing his Thai opponent around the ring, looking to engage. Sami resisted the chance to take him on, settling for the occasional counterpunch.

When the bell rang, however, Sami appeared to believe he had done enough to claim the victory, raising his arms in imagined triumph. When the judges’ decision was announced, awarding the win to Theara, Sami reacted strongly, snatching his hand away from the referee and making a cross with his arms to show his refusal to accept the result.

“During this rematch, I fought wholeheartedly and landed just as many shots as my opponent,” he claimed.

“I cannot accept this decision or accept that I lost this bout. I don’t understand how the judges could have ruled against me – perhaps they have some kind of personal issue with me? Either way, I am pleased that Theara was able to snatch a win on his home soil,” he added.

Mul Ny, head of TVK Fighter promotions, said that both the TV station’s commentators and the judging panel from the Cambodia Boxing Federation had paid close attention to the match, and that the decision was right.

“Their rematch had drawn a lot of attention, so both the station and the federation were very careful to score them in each round. In the fourth round, both of them were still equal. The decision was taken in the fifth round. Theara was the more aggressive fighter in the final round, so he earned the victory,” he said.

“He was resolute and showed total determination – so I have no problem with the result. Sami has the right to express his concerns of course, but as a professional fighter with a wealth of experience in the squared circle, he must know when he has been beaten by a better man,” he added.

He said the match had been well supported by fight fans from both countries, with almost 300,000 tuning in to the live broadcast.

“One indicator of how much people were looking forward to the bout was the amount of sponsorship the fighters attracted. Theara received $6,000 in personal sponsorship from Poipet residents,” he added.

Ny was quite prepared to hint at a third bout between the two popular fighters.

“This rivalry is not played out yet. If we can get both camps to agree, I would absolutely like to see them meet again. Theara is the current holder of the Krud belt, so if Sami wants a shot at it, he will have to climb back in the ring and try to take it,” he said.