Seventeen-year-old Mathias Gallo stepped into the TV3 boxing ring on Saturday for his 17th professional fight.
His mother, with a small video camera in her hand, stood ringside to film, to cheer and, at times, to cry as her high-school senior faced undefeated (yet still virtually unknown) Kong Sopheak, who cut her son twice with elbows in the first round.
The flow of blood unnerved Gallo nearly as much as it did his mother. But the youngster, displaying talent beyond his years, staved off a near certain loss with fleet-footed defence, sharp combinations and steady low kicks, forcing the draw and marring Kong Sopheak’s perfect record.
“I thought the decision was okay,” Gallo said. “He landed two elbows and cut me both times. I did not want to risk getting cut again, so I was always going backward.”
Kong Sopheak, from Battamabang, moves to 10-0-1. Gallo was uncertain of his record.
Born and raised in Turin, Italy, Mathias followed his father Robert into the fight game. He started training at 10 years old, and got serious about the sport four years ago when his family moved to Pattaya, where he now trains at the Kombat Fight Club.
Gallo won the gold medal at this year’s WMF 2010 World Junior Championships. He picked up the bronze in 2009.
The same quick hands and strong low kicks that won Gallo the gold medal in March were also on display Saturday, just not in enough abundance to record a victory.
Gallo landed a hard knee early in the second round that made the crowd gasp, and he scored with flush punch-kick combinations throughout the fight.
His low kicks gave 20-year-old Kong Sopheak trouble. And at times it seemed that just a few more might put the Battambang native on the canvas.
In the third, Gallo landed a perfectly placed spinning back fist that silenced the packed house at the TV3 boxing arena.
But nearly all of those techniques came on the back-peddle, as Kong Sopheak chased a bloody Gallo around the ring.
Vung Noi beats Maros Pacan
In the co-feature, Vung Noi outworked Slovakian fighter Maros Pacan to pick up an easy decision.
Pacan rattled Vung Noi, 24, a couple of times in five rounds with a big right hand, but beyond that, the 22-year-old Slovakian showed little.
“Look at me,” Pacan said, sticking out his tongue for emphasis. “I am sick. I have no power.”
TV3 hosts international bouts every other weekend. Sen Bunthen and Kao Roomchang are scheduled to appear September 25.