Controversy and boxing go hand in hand. There is rarely a week that goes by without some portion of the boxing fan base screaming about a robbery, or complaining about a poor stoppage. This week however we've seen a major controversy break out in between the JBC and the KBF over what is set to be an exhibition bout on a disputed island, with some suggesting that the issue may become a genuine political problem.
The bout in question is to be a exhibtion contest between Jung Koo Chang (38-4, 15) [장정구] and Myung Woo Yuh (38-1, 14) [유명우], the two men who dominated the Light Flyweight division through much of the 1980's, and recorded more than 30 combined defenses of the WBA and WBC titles. Back in the 80's a contest between the two men was considered a dream fight by some, but those in Korea had no intention of matching the two national superstars against each other and as a result they were kept apart.
The exhibition was announced recently with the two 53 year olds set to fight on the Liancourt Rocks, other wise known as Dokdo or Takeshima with a likely date of March 1st. The islands are a disputed territory between Japan and Korea and the staging of the bout on the islands is said to be a very contentious one with officials from the JBC and KBF said to be in talks regarding the bout.
The speculated March 1st date is also a controversial aspect with the day marking the anniversary of the March 1st Movement, which saw one of the first major Korean displays of resistance against Japanese occupation in 1919.
The exhibition is set to be promoted by Korean singer-come-activist Kim Jang Hoon, who has featured in a number of events involving the islands before, including a huge swimming event in 2012. Despite that it seems those working in boxing circles have asked the two former Korean fighters to refrain from participating in the event, with relationships between the JBC and KBF likely to be damaged if the contest goes ahead.
It should be noted that both Chang and Yuh are well known in Japanese boxing circles with Chang having twice beaten Hideyuki Ohashi [大橋 秀行] and Yuh having gone 1-1 with Hiroki Ioka [井岡 弘樹]. It may be that, given various friendships between the men, the two Korean will agree to hold off and fight an exhibition on a less political setting, or, as the media are reporting, or alternatively the bout could go ahead and leave the KBF losing one of their key allies.
Back in the 1980's and early 1990's Korean boxing was flying high and it was a million miles away from the mess we unfortunately have today. One of their stand out fighters was Myung Woo Yuh [유명우], one of the greatest Light Flyweight's in history.
Yuh's career was genuinely brilliant as he ran up a 38-1 (14) record between 1982 and 1993 and recorded 17 successive, and 19 total, defenses of the WBA Light Flyweight title. His sole loss during that great career saw him suffer a split decision loss in December 1991 to Japan's Hiroki Ioka [井岡 弘樹], a loss that was avenged the following year with Yuh claiming a majority decision over Ioka.
Ioka, the uncle of current world champion Kazuto Ioka, had himself a fantastic career, also in the 1980's and 1990's, as he became the youngest Japanese world champion and a 2-weight champion. He ran up a 33-8-1 (17) record and fought in an impressive 13 world title bouts between 1987, when he was just 18 years old, and 1998.
Earlier today the two men met up, with Yuh visiting Ioka in Osaka, meeting for the first time since their second bout. The meeting saw both showing a lot of respect to each other with Yuh suggesting that Ioka should come and see him in Seoul sometime and get a meal at the restaurant that he runs.
For those who haven't seen the two bouts we've included them both below and both are thrillers.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
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