Top fighter Thoeun Theara became the inaugural holder of the IPCC Kun Khmer World Champion belt after a fourth round elbow to the head of Brazilian Thiago Teixeira forced doctors to stop the match.
Fellow Kun Khmer veteran Chhut Serey Vanthong was unable to use his experience to prevail over younger fighter Pich Sambath in a Mas format bout, while Lao Chetra was able to defeat his Thai opponent Kolabkhav Sorchor Peak Outhoy on points at the February 11 event.
The lead up to the main event was filled with tension, with the Brazilian calling his Cambodian opponent out on social media. Theara, who recently claimed the Thai King title – a first for a Khmer boxer – was quick to respond.
“If you want the title, get past my deadly elbows first!” he said, in what turned out to be a portentous warning.
The match began with a flurry of blows from both fighters, with Theara throwing a fast combo which knocked Teixeira down. The Brazilian was forced to accept a standing count before the match resumed.
The bout continued in earnest throughout the first round, with neither fighter prepared to give an inch. The raw aggression fueling their energy levels seemed to have petered out through the second and third rounds, as the rapid tempo of the encounter began to tell on both men.
The velocity of the fight slowed to such as extent that the referee was twice forced to issue warnings for time wasting.
The pace began to pick up in the fourth round, with Theara delivering a savage elbow and opening a deep cut on the head of the Brazilian. Teixeira was able to complete the round, but his corner men were unable to stop the bleeding, and a doctor was forced to stop the fight.
The stoppage meant Theara was declared the first IPCC Kun Khmer World Champion. The title fight attracted thousands of dollars in sponsorship and was the most streamed Cambodian bout in history, with more than 360,000 fight fans tuning in to watch.
“It was a great success and a historical one. The tournament was not just about the excellent match between Theara and Teixeira, there were several other incredible bouts,” Kim Srun Kosal, representative of the International Professional Combat Council (IPCC) and president of MasFight in Cambodia, told The Post.
The evening’s Mas, or martialism square, format fight – a unique single nine-minute round in which victory can only be claimed via knockout – saw top national representative Chhut Serey Vanthong take on younger fighter Pich Sambath. The younger man’s heavy punches and elbows appeared to sap the strength of the older pug, who struggled to respond. Vanthong’s mental toughness saw him keep his feet until the final bell, however, despite bleeding profusely from numerous cuts to the head.
Under the rules of the popular new format, the match was declared a draw.
Srun Kosal was pleased with the quality of all of the evening’s fights, and declared the event a brilliant showcase of the emerging sport of Kun Khmer.
“Sasan Ghosairi, global president of IPCC World, has pledged his support for to grow the sport. We broadcast live to many countries both in Asia and Europe, and have received great feedback on the quality of the competition. Wherever this belt goes, it will always be emblazoned with the words ‘Kin Khmer’. Two additional belts have been created, the Kun Khmer European Champion belt and the Kun Khmer Japan Champion belt,” he said.
“It was a huge success. I hope other Cambodian fighters will do as well as Thoeun Theara, because more than words are needed to promote our beloved martial art. If we can combine the ancient sculptures of Angkor Wat – that illustrate the Khmer origins of our fighting style – with a series of modern day victories in the ring, then people will be forced to recognise the truth of Kun Khmer’s superiority,” he added.