TV3 hopes to capture weekend audience with western boxing as Svay Ratha goes for the vacant WBC international super bantamweight title at Olympic Stadium
CAMBODIA will enter the ranks of international boxing Sunday when local amateur champion Svay Ratha makes his professional debut against Filipino Pol Apolinario.
The pair will be fighting in the indoor arena at Olympic Stadium for the vacant interim WBC international super bantamweight title. The bout is scheduled for 12 rounds.
Pol Apolinario enters the ring Sunday with a record of 3-3-1.
In addition to the 12-round title fight, the Sunday card includes two international and two local kickboxing matches.
In the co-features, Bheut Kam will face Scottish fighter Stephen Meikle, and Nuon Soriya will take on British fighter Danny Taylor. Both Meikle and Taylor fight out of the RMB Muay Thai club in Thailand.
On the undercard, Les Tuk will take on Phun Sophorn and Sarim Vonthon will face Nuon Phireak.
The event, featuring performances by pop sensations Khemarak Sereymun and Meas Soksophea, marks the return of live boxing to the TV3 weekend schedule.
TV3 dropped its live boxing coverage in 2006 after two years of broadcasting. The station returns now to significantly more crowded airways.
TV5, CTN and Bayon TV each host live boxing programs on the weekend. Between them, the stations show more than 40 fights over Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
“We are going to challenge them head on,” said Ty Ranath, production director at TV3. “And we are going to beat them.”
Headlining its inaugural card with a boxing match, as opposed to a kickboxing bout, was no accident.
“If we just copy the other stations, we cannot win,” Ty Ranath said.
To command the market, TV3 plans to build its fight programming around regular professional boxing matches and international kickboxing bouts.
The station is cooperating with the Cambodian Amateur Boxing Federation to build the ranks of local professional boxing, and it is working with international promoters to reach more foreign fighters.
“Our plan is to host international fights every weekend,” Ty Ranath said, although he conceded that such frequency might prove a challenge. “That is what we want, and we are working with promoters in Thailand to make it happen.”
With no ring of its own, the station will initially host bouts at the Old Stadium on Saturdays only. The tentative time slot is 2pm, which would put them head to head against CTN, although TV3 station managers have yet to decide the optimum schedule time.
At CTN, management said the station would take a wait-and-see approach to TV3’s new programming.
“The weekend is already pretty full with boxing, so I guess they will have to compete with someone,” said Aaron Leverton, a producer at CTN. “But I’d be surprised if they chose to compete directly with us.”
TV3’s foray into professional boxing would not be the first for the sport. In 2007, TV5 tried to convert Bheut Kam, Chey Kosal and Pich Seyha into Western boxers. It quickly became apparent, however, that making the switch would not come as easily as promoters had hoped.
After months of hype, and a few humbling losses, TV5’s plan for professional boxing faded quietly down the memory hole.
The professional prospects for Svay Ratha, who is now training in Vietnam with the Cambodian national amateur team, appear fraught with similar uncertainty.
As an amateur, he has never been more than four rounds. Apolinario has gone eight rounds twice, though he came out on the wrong end of the decision both times.
Fights start at 6pm Sunday, with tickets at 12,000 riels (US$2.88) and 20,000 riels.