In November we counted down a number of honourable mentions for our 20 for 20. Now it's time to look at the 20 fighters who have managed to make it into the list properly, and they come from all over Asia and all over the weight classes. Some of these you may already be aware of, some are perhaps less well known, but either way these 20 men are going to be well worth following in the new year as they look to push forward in their career and move towards major success.
For these fighters we will look at the the reason why you should follow them, our expectations for them in the coming year and the issues they may face going forward. The one rule with all of these fighters is that they can't have fought for a world title at the time of writing.
Some of these are world ranked, and some of these may well be set for world title fights in the near future, but so far they have not had that top level bout.
Without any further ado, lets take a look at the man we have ranked #19 in our list of the top 20 Ones to watch in 2020.
Ye Joon Kim (18-1-2, 10)
South Korea desperately needs a fighter that the country can get behind, and the only one who seems to have the skills to really make a mark is Ye Joon Kim, who is a real natural talent. Kim can be frustrating at times, cruising through portions of bouts, but when he moves through the gears he looks like a genuinely fantastic talent. If his team can keep him on the right track, which is a challenge in it's self, and he can avoid another big injury, an issue that forced him to cancel a 2019 bout, then Kim is very much one to watch in 2020.
The problem with Korean boxing is that it feels really badly structured, with bouts falling through, and a lot of political issues, further adding to the frustrations fans can have with a fighter as frustrating as Kim. Despite that he's an enigma, a character, and boxing fans do enjoy characters. That is especially true when the fighter in question is talented, and can appeal to fan who want to see them beat as well as fans who want to enjoy their skills. Kim probably isn't known well enough to have genuine haters yet, but his personality could well make him a fighter you want to see
What do we expect?
If Kim can get his act sorted then we genuinely see 2020 being a career year for the Korean who should be in the mix for either the OPBF or WBO Asia Pacific title. Korea has lacked a genuine Oriental level fighter, but Kim has the ability to do just that! And more. We don't see Kim winning a world title in 2020, but by the end of the year he should be in the mix, even in the stacked Super Bantamweight division. Sadly, though, it all depends on whether his team can keep him active and get him the bouts he needs.
In Korea the political mess can really hamper a fighter, with the KBC, KBF and KBM all having their own little games, but it does seem like better bouts are being made in Korea and 2019 has seen some good fighters travel to the peninsula for fights. If that continues in 2020 then Kim is likely to be one of the fighters who does get to face notable opponents and there really is no excuse for him to not be mixing at top regional level.
We won't dwell on the issue of Korean boxing too much here, as it does appear to be going in the right direction and we suspect that all of the political machinations would be wanting a Korean world champion to spearhead the sports revival in the country. The bigger worry with Kim is Kim himself.
The talented enigma has lacked consistency, both in terms of when he fights and how he fights. One fight he can look like the talent Korean boxing has been wishing for, and in his next fight he looks like a lazy, wild fighter, full of arrogance and lacking a boxing brain. We don't have a problem with Kim having fun in the ring and putting on a show for the fans, but he does need to put on more intelligent performances. Winning in style is great, but willing and looking a bit like you don't care is a less great and Kim, at times, has looked like he doesn't care.
As well as the arrogance and underwhelming performance we also have concerns about Kim's longer term ambitions and every time he seems to have built some momentum something has stopped it dead. Be it a lay off, an injury, or something else we've never seem Kim manage to snowball success into more success. In 2020 we hope that changes, but we will always suspect something, just lurking out of sight, will be an issue for Kim.
When we have some free time we're hoping to add a series of fun articles to the site. Hopefully these will be enjoyable little short features