Dave Leduc, who is the current openweight Lethwei boxing champion in Myanmar, has announced that he will travel to Cambodia this year to challenge SEA Games gold medallist Prum Samnang any time that is convenient, after their planned match later this month in Slovakia was cancelled.
According to the contract offered by the World Lethwei Federation (WLF) of Myanmar, the event was originally scheduled for May 27.
Leduc – the first foreigner to hold the title of world champion in the traditional Myanmar martial art – said the match was called off because Samnang could not obtain a visa to travel to Europe. In a May 23 social media post, the Canadian fighter said he will face Samnang in Cambodia, but did not specify a date or proposed rules for the bout.
“I am very confident that the Cambodian security will be able to protect me when I travel to Phnom Penh, so that I can compete safely and showcase Cambodian traditional martial arts to the world,” he said of his request for personal security protection.
He said he believed that the match would draw a historic crowd, and expect that many people will travel to Cambodia to witness the event live.
“When I come to Cambodia this year, it will be one of the biggest events in … Southeast Asia. I have millions of followers on social media. Myanmar has a population of 54 million and Cambodia has 16 million, so we can expect more than 70 million people to be watching,” he added.
However, Leduc has not yet confirmed which broadcasters will host the historic event.
“This will bring the biggest live show, the biggest sponsors, the biggest online views, the best sportsmen, and the biggest expenses,” he claimed.
As for Samnang, who just won a gold medal in the 81kg weight category of Kun Khmer martial arts at the 32nd SEA Games in his own territory, it remains to be seen when their much-hyped faceoff will take place.
As of May 24, Samnang was unsure of the proposed date for the historic bout, nor of the rules the two champions will fight under.
“I still do not know when this match will take place, and I do not yet know if it will be fought under the rules or Lethwei or Kun Khmer. My preparation will be very different depending on the rules – Lethwei is fought with bare knuckles and the use of headbutts is allowed. I know that Leduc has posted that he is coming, but I have not received any specific information yet,” he said.
Samnang said he is keen for the fight to go ahead, but that he is also prepared to negotiate a fee that would reflect the importance of the match. Although the Slovakia match was cancelled, he is demanding $50,000 for a Kun Khmer match, and will negotiate for more if the rules of Lethwei are applied. He believed that his price was reasonable.
“I will always welcome any challenger, and once I know for sure when the fight will take place and what form it will take, I will be well prepared. It is a rare opportunity to test myself against a world champion, and I will be defending the honour of Kun Khmer, and the nation. The significance of the event means that the purse must be appropriate,” he said.