Earlier this month the Korean Boxing Management, aka BoxingM, reported several interesting stories.
First there will be a Korea Vs Japan card in on June 25th at the Korakuen Hall. Originally this card was pencilled in for March 14, but was delayed to give the Reason promotions, who do the Dangan shows, a bit of extra time to organise the event, which we now know will take place at the Korakuen Hall. We haven't had the names of anyone involved in this card announced, yet, but it is expected to be a strong card with both countries being allowed to send good fighters to it, rather than mismatches favouring the home country.
Secondly, and arguably more interestingly, is an agreement between the two countries to allow national titles from both countries to be fought for in Japan, and to allow fighters from both countries to fight for the Japanese title. This is part of a wider change from the JBC, though the Korean's have explained it pretty well.
The BoxingM described the rule change as "a boxing M registered player can challenge a Japanese women's title match", and "So if a player who needs a Korean title match does not have an opponent, a title match is possible against a Japanese player, and JBC has approved it." The first bout under this rule will take place on April 13th in Kyoto.
At the moment it's unclear how wide scoping this rule is, but it does also appear to apply to male title fights too, and is the rule that was made in the 1970's, though never actually invoked. In theory it opens up titles to more challengers, which can be vital in the division's where national competition is lacking, and will allow fighters more opportunities to fight for and defend national titles. One thing that has been reported is that this is not explicitly limited to BoxingM and the JBC, but is actually OPBF wide, allowing Indonesian's, Thai's and Filipino's in on national title action from across other OPBF countries.
To our understanding if a fighter, wins a national title, not of their body, they can defend it in the country they won it, but if they leave that country to fight the title becomes vacant.
The first fight under this new rule, according to BoxingM, will see Tamao Ozawa (15-5, 6) [小澤瑶生] fight against against Hye Soo Park (5-7-1, 1) for the JBC and BoxingM female Light Flyweight titles in April, in what is a rather unique bout given this dual national title fight situation.
The main event of a BoxingM show today in Dongducheon, South Korea, saw the BoxingM Super Featherweight title have a new champion, as Dong Kwan Lee (10-2-2, 4) [이동관] took a decision over Hyun Je Shin (10-9, 2) [신현제], who was looking for his first defense of the belt.
The fight started at a brilliant pace, and despite the fact the ring looked huge the two men didn't take long to find each other in the center of the ring and begin having a phone booth war. The high tempo, and up close action continued into round 2, though it was Shin often looking like the man with more wrinkles to his game, getting out of range and choosing when to come in. Sadly for Shin he more intelligent footwork didn't really help him when it came to actually trading blows, which is where Lee excelled, with crisper and cleaner punching.
By round 3 both men began to show signs of feeling the tempo, but neither wanted to give an inch and it meant we continued to get some amazing back and forth action up close with bombs from both landing cleanly. It wasn't the cleanest or most technically beautiful action you're going to see, but it was all out action with neither wanting to be the one to back off.
Whilst the action would slow down as the fight went on the style never changed with both feeling like they were getting the better of fight in a thrilling, action packed inside war. It seemed like Lee was the one landing the hard shots, but Shin was often the man who seemed to be out landing his foe.
One of the very rare breaks in action was in round 8, when Shin had to see the doctor due to a cut over his right eye. It was a pretty brutal cut in fairness, but he seemed fine to continue and would instantly go back to having a war with Lee when the fight resumed.
Despite both men throwing, and seemingly landing, a huge number of punches we some how ended up reaching the final bell. The only round not to be action packed was the final one, with Lee backing off more than he had in the previous 9 rounds, likely feeling like he had done more than enough to take the win. Even though he backed off he wasn't able to avoid some wildly entertaining sequences with Shin who kept coming forward and trying to make it into a tear up.
At the final bell both men celebrated, both looked exhausted, and both looked like they had been in a hard, pulsating 2-way fight. It had been a very special fight, and we suspect that it will be on the short list for the 2019 Korean fight of the Year.
The referee got the fighters to center ring and ended up raising Lee's hand, in what we believe was a split decision, to crown the new champion. This was Lee's 7th win in his last 8 and he looked very strong at Super Featherweight, a surprise given he had fought at Super Bantamweight last September. For Shin this does end his reign but the 24 year old will likely bounce back, and will have built on his reputation despite losing.
Earlier today fight fans in Dongducheon, in South Korea, saw Hyun Min Yang (6-2, 5)* [양현민] defeat Gyun Hyun Lee (2-4-1) [이규현] to become the new Korean Middleweight champion in an bout that saw an early ending due to a nasty cut suffered by Lee.
Early on it looked like Lee was the more skilled operator, but his lack of power did little to get Yang's respect and Yang would show a willingness to take one to land one, knowing his power was more hurtful. Despite being the lighter puncher it was Yang who was the man trying to do damage, especially in round 2 as he set the tempo for the fight and Yang was made to look clumsy and crude, missing and being tagged through his guard.
In round 7 Lee would be cut from an accidental headclash, leaving him busted over the right eye. It wasn't the first headclash between the two men, and it wouldn't be the last, but was the first to leave any real damage and Lee would need to pass a lengthy doctor's inspection. Despite passing the inspection he was a a fighter he with a clear bullseye on his face, and was also tiring, after 6 good rounds.
Yang seemed to be inspired by his opponents injury and began to unload some big head shots. The cut would worsen afterwards with Yang's heavy hands not only aiming for the cut but Lee's head in general, with his hooks being particularly eye catching. You could tell in round 8 that Yang was really enjoying himself, whilst Lee would be given another look over by the ring side doctor. The cut caused by the headclash had worsened drastically, but he was allowed to continue on.
At the start of round 9 Lee would be given another doctor's inspection, and this time the bout would be stopped. Both fighters were then given time to catch their breath and put their gowns on before joining the referee in center ring, where Yang would have his hand raised in victory.
Although it's not totally clear what the specific result was, with one Korean fan posing the questioning to the broadcaster on their youtube, it would appear to be a technical decision for Yang at the start of round 9.
Between Christmas and the New Year Korean Boxing Management, BoxingM, announced the key dates for their upcoming rookie tournament, Battle Royal 3.
The competition, which is set to take place across all 17 weight classes, is currently taking applicants with the hope of getting 16 applicants per weight class to begin with. Their are rules on who can apply, with things like age and experience limits, with all the details available on the BoxingM website.
The group have announced that the competition will begin on March 16th, with the round of 16 bouts all being held on the same day. The quarter finals will take place just over 4 weeks later, on March 31st with the semi-finals set for May 12th and the final taking place on June 3oth.
The first 3 rounds of the competition, which is essentially their answer to the Rookie of the Year tournament in Japan and the Rookie to Rocky tournament from the KBC, will be fought over 4 rounds of action with the finals set to be fought over 6 rounds.
At the moment the TV situation is unclear, though the first round of bouts will not be shown, no decision has been made on the quarter finals whilst the semi-finals and finals are seeking live broadcasts, but are open to being recorded and shown.
The competition has sizable financial incentives, with large prize money as well as bonuses for winning the special awards, such as the MVP, Excellent fighter and KO awards.
The previous two Battle Royal tournaments have been successes and we're looking forward to seeing how series 3 goes as BoxingM continue to grow their flagship tournament and build in the early success that the competition has had.
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