The second of 3 title fights in Korea today saw Filipino veteran Michael Landero (19-15-4, 8) take on Korean teenager Sang Hun Oh (6-1, 4) [오상헌] for the KBF Bantamweight title
The 33 year old Landero was once a really good fighter, and a former OPBF champion with wins against the likes of Kenichi Horikawa, Yasutaka Kuroki and Warlito Parrenas. Sadly at Bantamweight he looked completely dwarfed by Oh, and it was clear Landero wasn't a natural at the weight.
Oh seemed very relaxed coming in and took the fight to Landero. Whilst mostly in control through the first round, the Korean he was rocked when Landero managed to fire back part way through the round. That seemed to earn Landero the respect of the Korean who showed much more caution in round 2.
Despite being under-sized Landero was showing that he had the better skills and ring craft in the second round, pressing Oh backwards and finding a home for his right hand whilst blocking and a lot of Oh's shots. Sadly though it was a big effort for the Filipino who was more than 2 years removed from his last, and was a high risk strategy, taking it to the younger, stronger, bigger man.
In round 3 Oh's size, youth and energy took over the fight, with the youngster pinning Landero on the ropes and going to town on him with a long and sustained assault that forced the Filipino into a defensive shell. Oh unloaded and in some countries the referee would have stepped in but here the referee allowed the fight to continue and Landero made it to the bell.
Coming out for round 4 seemed a poor decision for Landero, and early in the round Oh put him down with a body shot. Landero's toughness saw him get to his feet, but a follow up left the referee with no option but to step in.
With this win the 19 year old claims his biggest win to date, and bounces back from May's loss to Kyung Min Kwon. As for Landero we hope he retires, though we have a suspicion he will have around as a journeyman and take a lot more punishment before finally hanging them up.
The first of 3 title bouts in Korea today saw a new KBF Welterweight champion being crowned
The bout began with the talented Heuk San Lee (10-2-2, 5) [이흑산], a Korean based refugee originally from Cameroon, boxing well and using his athletic ability to out box Gyung Mo Yuh (6-6-3, 1)[유경모]. Late in the opening round Lee let his shots fly and seemed close to getting a KO before Yuh eventually fired back.
After a very rocky start Yuh seemed to decide he wasn't going to have let his big opportunity go by the wayside and began to pressure Lee, getting in his face, and crowding him for distance.
Yuh's tactics weren't the the most subtle, but they saw him putting Lee under pressure, taking away Lee's edge in speed and technical ability and turning it into a street fight. It was the only chance he had, and he knew it. He had to make this messy, rough and hard.
Despite the pressure Yuh struggle to have sustained success, and the effort he was putting in seemed to be taking more out of him than Lee.
By round 5 some of the intensity from Yuh's pressure had dissipated. He seemed like a man who was starting to tire, there was still fire in his belly, but the flame was starting to flicker. In round 6 Lee, who had been warned earlier in the same round, was deducted a point for use of the head. It seemed to spur on Yuh a touch, but he had taken some real punishment through the round, as he seemed to begin relying on his toughness a bit too much.
Despite looking spent in round 5 and 6 Yuh had a major break through in round 7 when he rocked Lee late in the round. Lee had put in a huge effort early in the round and had Yuh in trouble, before being rocked himself in a messy yet thrilling round, that felt like it might be the changing of the tide.
Lee came out for the start of round 8 with some energy after the minute's rest but failed to keep it up, and again Yuh came on stronger as the round went on, until both were close to a standstill. They did the same in round 9, as the footwork of both vanished, the defene of both did the same and they just engaged in a gruelling phone booth battle of wills, and physicality. This wasn't a toe-to-toe war with punches, but was a battle of sheer machismo,
The final round was another battle through exhaustion. Crisp clean punching was the latest thing to be forgotten as the fighters tiredly wailed wildly on each other whilst they were running on fumes. Both looked like their legs were ready to buckle beneath them.
After 10 rounds we went to the judges. It seemed, to us at least, like Lee had done enough. He had been forced on the back foot at times, but seemed to land the better shots, and seemed to see out the storms when he was hurt. It wasn't a dominant performance by any stretch, but it did feel like a win for Lee. The judges however went the other way, favouring the 32 year old Yuh, who got the decision and became the new KBF Welterweight champion.
One of the biggest complains in boxing is the political discourse that runs through the sport. Be it a promotional politics, politics with the alphabet boys or even at national commission level, there is simply too much political wrangling in the sport, and too many things that are inconsistent, problematic and confusing.
One of the worst countries for the political mess that we've got is South Korea, where there are numerous commissions and political affiliations, including the KBC, KBF and KBA, as well as a powerful management outfit, Korea Boxing M (KBM).
Earlier this week the KBM revealed that they had been holding a convention with the KBF, and whilst they haven't agreed to integrate, they have put down some agreements for the betterment of the sport in Korea.
The two will recognise each other as professional boxing organisations, and will work together. Notably they will not do the same with any other of the political factions in Korea, freezing out the KBA and KABC among others.
As part of their new working relationship they will only have 1 champion, unifying the titles of their relevant organisations to give us an all Korean champion. Connected to that is the fact the two will have join rankings. A huge step in having a single, solid and clear narrative in Korean boxing.
The organisations have agreed that if a fighter affiliated with a gym recognised by either organisation competes in an event run by an organisation they don't recognise, the gym license will be cancelled the fighter will not be recognised by either organisations.
This might not seem like a huge story, but for Korean boxing to have a unified vision is a great thing, and we're really hoping this is something that both parties do commit to long term.
Earlier this year it seemed that KBC and KBF were set to bury the hatchet and begin to work together for the betterment of Korean boxing. It seemed like Korean boxing was set to have a unified body and was set have the best Korean fighters fighting the best Korean fighters. Sadly though the planning for "Dream Fights 2017" seems to have fallen apart and the show has now been cancelled, with the idea of unification being further away than ever before.
The two bodies had seemingly agreed to put on "Dream Fights 2017", but a falling out has seen the entire show being scrapped, with the KBC fighters who were given permission to fight on the show having that permission taken away. Much to the chargrin of the KBF who released a public statement on January 11th explaining their point of view on the whole mess, and the frustration between the two parties.
The statement, which we have featured below in Korean and in a rough English translation explains the KBF's view on the situation and a few other things, which we will try to quickly run through.
The KBF stated they were set up in 2015 and had seen their fighters persecuted by the KBC, who had been recognised by the WBC as the only official body in Korea. As a result of the WBC/KBC relationship the KBF fighters had found it hard to get international fights. They had, through the relationship between the head of the KBF and Hideyuki Ohashi, been able to bring some Japanese fighters over for KBF shows, but had been unable to send their fighters to Japan, with the KBC's permission. The JBC were prohibited from allowing KBF fighters to fight on their soil due to their commitments to the WBC and the OPBF, meaning any fighter from the KBF wanting to fight in had to get express permission from the KBC to do so, essentially allowing the KBC to have power over fighters thqt weren't even under their banner.
In November 2016 Jin Wook Lim, a KBF fighter, was given special permission to fight in Japan for the OPBF Super Bantamweight title on a one-off basis. It seemed like the KBC and the KBF were beginning to work together and that seemed to be the belief of the KBF which allowed Buffalo Promotions to arrange a co-body show, with the KBC agreeing. Sadly however it appears the two sides have fallen out time, with promises by the KBC not having been kept and the KBF now unable to sanction the bouts, with the KBF laying the blame firmly at the feet of KBC head honcho Hong Soo-hwan .
It seems now that Korean boxing has completely killed any dreams of unifying the two major bodies, and it could be a very long time until the two sides speak about a co-show again.
Again for fans interest we have features the Korean statement and the rough Enlgish translation below.
Earlier this month we reported that there would be a KBF Vs KBC show on January 22nd, with the show setting the two most notable Korean boxing bodies against each other in a remarkable, and potentially massive, show that could help Korean boxing develop in a huge way.
Today that sow was officially announced at the Ramada Hotel in Seoul with the fighters and the teams from the two bodies showing up for the press conference, and talking about the longer term plans.
It seems that both the KBF and KBC are proud of working together for the show, but neither view this as a one off, in stead they view it as the first step towards unifying the two bodies and creating a single major body in Korea, allowing them to fight the threats of the KPBF, KBA and BoxingM together.
At the moment there still seems to be a long way to go before that happens, but with a number of shows in the works for the joint venture it does look like something both parties are wanting to work towards, and both will be looking to do their best to improve Korean boxing. There is however still talks about what name the joint organisation will take, with both parties said to be determined to keep their name for the eventual unified body.
As for the boutson the show, the main event willsee Sa Myung Noh (9-2, 2) battle against Nam Joon Lee (8-5-3, 4) in a Featherweight bout set for 10 rounds. The bout is a genuinely intriguing one with Noh having mixed with the most notable names currently in Korean boxing, losing to Kin Wook Lim and Ye Joon Kim whilst holding a win over Teiru Atsumi, who has gone on to make waves in Japan. As for Lee he has valuable international experience with losses to Qiu Xiao Jun and Masatoshi Kotani but has shown in those defeats that he is a capable fighter and will have no fear at all of facing Noh.
The under-card features two other KBF Vs KBC bouts. One of those is an 8 round Welterweight contest which will see 18 year old I Hoon Jung (5-2-1, 4) face off with the unbeaten In Duck Seo (7-0, 4) whilst the other main support bout will be a Super Flyweight contest between Kyung Hwan Song (3-0, 1) and Yo Han Bae (7-2-1, 1), in what looks like a huge step up for the 19 year old Song.
If the KBC and KBF can work together, as they plan to do, for more than just a single show then we'll be able to get excited about Korean boxing once again. Fingers crossed that the two organisations are doing more than just talk here, but many in Korea have heard about unification for too long to just believe people when the word is mentioned.
(Image courtesy of the KBF)
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