Elite Chamroeun used his frustration at fan criticisms to change his strategy from hitting and running to a ruthless all-out attacking style as he showed his strength, stunning Thun Eanlai and taking a knockout win to become champion of the 60kg Golden Trophy Season 2 at Town Arena.
Although Chamroeun had beaten Eanlai twice in a row, he had taken both wins by points. Perhaps because of this, he was criticised by many fight fans – and some of his opponents – for his fighting style. They suggested that he was a cowardly boxer who found space to hit his opponent once before sliding back into a defensive style which lacked the aggression so loved by Khmer fight fans.
All the criticism on social media made Chamroeun angry and upset, and he and his trainer, Sorn Elite, decided to switch up their strategy. His switch to an attacking style paid dividends as he surprised everyone at the arena to see the May 29 bout – and his unfortunate opponent – employing a sensational attack and knocking Eanlai out cold.
Chamroeun said after the fight: “Before this match, I was not happy because many people criticised that I hit and ran. They suggested that I had no special talent and that my wins were some kind of fluke results. I felt so angry and upset that this time out, I decided that whatever the result was, I must attack and show my aggression to demonstrate that my style was not just to hit and run.”
With this change in his strategy, Chamroeun really showed a new dimension to his fighting abilities. Although Eanlai was prepared to take risks and unleashed a barrage of attacks, Chamroeun’s punches were heavier. What was even more special was the fierce third round. As Chamroeun kneed Eanlai and the pair exchanged blows, Chamroeun spotted a weakened opponent and leapt in for a merciless KO, with a vicious elbow strike to the jaw.
Of the victory, Chamroeun said: “Whether I was knocked-out or not, I had to be aggressive and do my best. I needed to make sure that I would not hear people suggest I am a coward who can only hit and run, so today I really had to show off my striking skills.
“I was worried because his elbow was good. I was hit by two or three really good elbow strikes, and was suffering a little bit. Luckily I was able to stay focused. I saw him start to weaken after I hit him with many knees. Finally, I was able to finish the match with an elbow, but I think he was poised to be knocked out thanks to my strong knees.”
As the newly crowned champion of Golden Trophy season 2 – with a prize purse of 16 million riel ($4,000) – Chamroeun admitted that the result was unexpected.
“I did not expect that I would be able to knock him out like this, because he is very good. If we kept retreating, I knew he would still try to close and exchange blows. I knew that could be dangerous and perhaps lead to a loss on points. I knew I would have to follow his fighting style and attack, and I did it well, especially in the third round,” he added.
On the other side of the ring, Eanlai – who was knocked out but collected eight million riel as tournament runner-up – was very disappointed and apologised to his fans. Among them was his wife, who had travelled from Pursat province to encourage her husband, only to see him brutally knocked unconscious.
“My strategy was to try to get Chamroeun angry and keep him attacking me. I hoped to get into an aggressive fight. Unfortunately, I failed to use my game plan and dominate the way I would have liked to. I am also shorter than he is, so while I could attack with uppercuts and straight punches, he also had the option of striking down,” he said.
“I know for a fact that if you hit harder, you will win, and I’m sorry to my parents – and especially my wife – for not doing well,” he added. “I enjoyed what I did today because I had a lot of support from them and it made me attack without looking back. However, I acknowledge the fact that I was not really good enough because although we have the same weapons, I was not strong enough to beat him.”