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Vy Savuth steps in to capture Cambodia’s first boxing belt

Vy Savuth steps in to capture Cambodia’s first boxing belt


Vy Savuth scores a stunning sixth-round knockdown against Paul Apolinario Sunday to lay claim to the vacant WBC international super bantamweight title.

Photo by: Nick Sells (www.nicksellsphotography.com)
Cambodia’s Vy Savuth (left) throws a punch at Filipino Paul Apolinario during their WBC super bantamweight world title fight Sunday at Olympic Stadium.

EIGHT days ago, Vy Savuth was an unheralded amateur boxer with few prospects. But at Olympic Stadium on Sunday, against terrible odds, the 19-year-old Takhmao native became Cambodia’s newest national hero, stopping Filipino boxer Paul Apolinario in the sixth round to win the vacant interim WBC international super bantamweight title.

Before Sunday, there was no professional English-rules boxing in Cambodia. Now it claims a world champion.

With a minute gone in the sixth round, Vy Savuth appeared to hurt Apolinario with a left-right combination. As Apolinario stood frozen with his chest against the ropes, Vy Savuth hammered him with a left hook.

Apolinario dropped to his knees clutching the back of his head, then tumbled face down to the canvas.

Vy Savuth jumped into the air, raising a victory fist, and the jubilant, 4,000-strong crowd erupted into thunderous cheers, celebrating the arrival of Cambodia’s first international boxing title.

It wasn’t even Vy Savuth’s fight. He was filling in for Svay Ratha, the amateur champion who was originally scheduled to face Apolinario. But Svay Ratha had pulled out of the bout some days previous, opting instead for a chance to train in Portugal. Vy Savuth got just seven days’ notice.

“He’s never been more than four rounds,” said Duong Boray, Vy Savuth’s trainer at the Phnom Pich boxing club in Takhmao. None of that mattered Sunday.

Vy Savuth came out sharp from the opening bell, firing crisp jabs and landing hard combinations. To the delight of the roaring crowd, the two fighters traded flurries of combinations in every round. Apolinario proved tough, and until he went down in the sixth, he never appeared hurt, despite taking the harder shots.

The knockout came at just the right time. Vy Savuth looked tired in round five, and Apolinario stared to pick up the pace. The bout was scheduled for 10 rounds.

“He was strong,” Vy Savuth said after the fight, fingering some slight puffiness in his cheeks. “He caught me a few times with good overhand rights.”

The victory gives Vy Savuth a professional record of 1-0-0 with one knockout. Paul Apolinario drops to 3-4-1.

Cambodians win foreigner bouts In the two international kickboxing fights on the card, Bhuet Kam outpointed Thiego Teixeira of Brazil and Nuon Soriya scored a second-round TKO victory over Peter Pikinic of Uganda.

Both Teixeira (13-2-0) and Pikinic (8-2-0) were last-minute replacements for Stephen Meikle and Danny Taylor, who were originally scheduled to fight Bheut Kam and Nuon Soriya, respectively.

Teixeira, who weighed in at 72 kilograms, held a noticeable size advantage over Bhuet Kam, who weighed in at 67 kilograms.

“He was a lot bigger than me, which made it difficult in the clinch,” Bheut Kam said afterward. “If we were the same size, I would have knocked him out.”

Nuon Soriya beat Pikinic with a flurry of unanswered punches in the second round, scoring three eight-counts and triggering the three-knockdown rule.

“That’s what happens when you don’t train,” Pikinic said afterward. “Before the fight, I told him my weakness. I told him, ‘It’s your game. Take it.’”

On the undercard, Nuon Phireak scored a fourth-round TKO victory over Sarim Vonthon due to doctor stoppage because of a cut, and Les Tuk scored a fourth-round knockdown with a head kick on his way to earning a decision over Phon Sophorn.

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