Earlier this week we “broke” the news that it was to be Korean veteran Young Kil Bae (26-4-1, 21) who would be getting the next shot at WBC Minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin (37-0, 12). At the time the announcement was a rather shocking one and one that caught us by surprise in a lot of ways. Notably we over-looked his birth name, until Jake Donovan of Boxingscene made us aware, of Myung Goo Yuh and various other details regarding the 35 year old Korean fighter.
As a result of our over-sight we thought it only fair that we did a small feature on the upcoming world title challenger.
Born in 1979 with the name Myung Goo Yuh the fighters early years are a mystery but we've been made aware that he made his professional debut back in December 2001. That was when Korean boxing was certainly on it's way down from the heyday of the 1980's but it was still alive with the likes of In Jin Chi and Yo Sam Choi, who was then the WBC Light Flyweight champion, both being relevant names in boxing.
Since beating Wayan in September 2013 we've seen Bae being ultra-active with 15 wins, all by T/KO, in just 19 months. On paper that sounds amazing, though things aren't as impressive as they sound when you dig beneath the surface.
For example Bae's first win after the Wayan fight saw Bae stopping Khunkhiri Wor Wisaruth in 3 rounds to claim the WBC Asian Boxing Council Super Flyweight title, Khunkiri however had fought just a few days earlier in the Philippines, being stopped in 5 rounds by Mark Bernaldez, in a bout at Featherweight. Not only had Khunkiri come in on a stoppage around 10 days previous but he'd also had to lose 11lbs in less than 2 weeks!
Another achievement saw Bae claiming the PABA Flyweight title in February 2014 stopping Sitsvtl Redbluegym in 150 seconds to claim the PABA Flyweight title. Impressive until you realise that Sitsvtl was a debutant who hasn't fought since.
On paper Bae's most impressive achievement came last November when he stopped former world title challenger Mongkol Charoen in 6 rounds. Mongkol's big claim to fame had been the fact that he had previously gone 12 rounds with Ricardo Lopez in a WBC Minimumweight title bout in 1997. That however was 17 years earlier and when Bae fought him he had been in active 14 and a half years.
Other than his record what else do we know? Well we actually have good quality footage of his last 2 bouts, wins over Joan Imperial and Richie Behec.
Against Imperial Bae did show some nice ability to get Imperial into a corner though much of the performance reminded us of an “Ali Raymi” performance with Bae getting inside and going to work with body shots a plenty. There were some head shots but much of his offense was focussed on the body with his opponents flaws really allowing Bae to do as he wished until the bout was stopped in the 2nd round, after the third knockdown of the bout. This win saw Bae claim the interim WBO Asia Pacific Light Flyweight title.
Against Behec we saw a much more polished rounded performance by the Korean but it was far from polished with Behec tagging him several times before, presumably, being reminded of the script and losing in the 3rd round. Prior to the stoppage Behec had been down twice in the round, firstly from a from a body shot, very early in the round, and then an excellent right uppercut later in the round before a body shot dropped Behec and the bout was stopped.
Interestingly for those two bouts Bae used different names. Against Imperial Bah went by the name “Myung Goo Yuh Kokietgym” whilst against Behec he went by his birth name, “Myung Goo Yuh”. This leaves us wondering when he went to the Young Kil Bae name. We assume it was after he signed to fight for AK Promotions, who have a history of changing the names of their fighters,though we can't be certain.
So what else is there to know about the future title challenger?
Well firstly he's never actually fought at Minimumweight before. He's held he's won various regional titles between Light Flyweight and Super Flyweight, and has actually fought above the Bantamweight limit twice, but has never never made 105lbs. He may in fact find that to be impossible given he's 5'5" and appears to be a good size Flyweight in recent bouts.
His regional titles have helped him earn world rankings with 3 of the 4 world title bodies, with the WBC putting him at #13 in the Light Flyweight division, the WBA placing him at #13 in the Flyweight division and the IBF going with #15 at Flyweight. Though they are questionable rankings at best given the quality of competition. We're not joking when we say his win over Mongkol is the best he has.
Whilst he's not done anything to deserve a world title fight at 105lbs we do need to admit we're excited by the fact a Korean is fighting for a world title. The last Korean to get a shot at a major belt was Jung-Oh Son, who got an undeserved shot at Koki Kameda's WBA Bantamweight title back in November 2013...and almost pulled it off. If Bae can shock the world and upset Wanheng Menayothin on June 2nd then there is the chance that Korean boxing could use him as a focal point and begin it's resurgence. He'd be a very surprising hero for Korean boxing however any one who can reinvigorate the Korean's love with boxing is good in our eyes.
Can he over-come Wanheng Menayothin?
Common sense suggests no, no he can't defeat Wanheng. However we will enjoy watching him try on June 2nd and hopefully he'll be competitive at the very least. It's unlikely that he'll have anything to really test the Thai with but we've seen bigger shocks in boxing in the past.
He does however have a lot of experience in Thailand where he has already fought 13 times, scoring 12 wins in the country. That alone gives him a better chance than a number of other challengers who go to Thailand and get struck by just how unique the conditions are in the country where fights are held in the day time with a hot sun and a high humidity.
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