With over 40 world champions South Korea is a country that has long been linked to boxing. Sadly though it's more than a decade since they had a man holding a world title and they are certainly a long way removed from their best years. Despite that it is worth noting that the country has started to, slowly, build an exciting and interesting domestic scene. That domestic scene has been lead by the rise of the BoxingM, the management that really has pumped money into the sport, run tournaments and given fighters a chance to make their mark.
One of the big hopes that has become a focus of BoxingM has been exciting teenage puncher Jeong Han Cha (5-0, 5), who is set to make his international debut on June 25th, when he takes on 23 year old Japanese foe Takahiko Kobayashi (8-3, 6) at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo. This is the main event of a Dangan promoted card pitting Japanese locals against Korean visitors, as has the potential to be a very special bout.
Born in September 2000 Cha didn't have much of an amateur background, with no amateur bouts. What he did however have was a track record in sports in general, having competed in baseball and was a natural athlete, before being bitten by the boxing bug.
Cha made his professional debut at the age of 17, and quickly impressed as he scored a 2nd round win over fellow debutant Geon Kim in June 2018. This bout was held on a very obscure card at the Taepoong Gymnasiumm, in front of about 12 fans and took place at Welterweight. Despite the low quality of the show Cha showed some genuine promise, especially in round 2 when he began to let his shots fly. Notably he was left with a bloodied nose in round 1 but gritted it out and twice dropped Kim to secure the win. The bout saw him showing great instinct, despite some crude skills and defensive flaws.
Just a month after his debut Cha would fight in the second ever Battle Royale, a Korean Rookie tournament comparable in some ways to the Japanese Rookie of the Year tournament. In his first round bout of the tournament he stopped Gun Ho Lee in the second round, unloading a 2 handed assault on Lee until he went down and the referee was forced to halt the bout. His progress through the tournament continued in October when he took on Shin Hee Min, and once again his power excited, with Min stunned in round 2 and not responding whilst Cha wailed away with clean shots.
Due to issues outside of his hands Cha was essentially given a bye for the semi-final of the Battle Royale, but fought on the same card as the other semi-finals bouts and stopped Gun Ho Lee in a second bout between the two men. This time Lee managed to survive into round 3 with Cha, but was against broken down by his pressure, power and work rate
In his Battle Royal final Cha would battle fellow unbeaten Yun Seong Kim, who like Cha was also a southpaw. Kim boxed really well in the first round and left Cha with a bloodied nose, much like Cha had on his debut. Cha however applied pressure, constantly, and in round 2 he broke through, stopping Kim with a series of head shots, after previously having dropped with a body shot that was ruled low.
From his 5 bouts so far Cha has looked like a throw back to the Korean fighters of old. The Korean fighters who were instilled with a "come forward and punch" mentality. His defensive issues are still there, as they were on his debut, and they do need work however his offensive pressure and power are what have made him so fun to watch and have left him marked as the Korean hopeful to watch. He really does hit hard, his combinations are excellent and the way he jumps on an opponent when he has them hurt has been incredible so far.
Against Kobayashi, himself a punch, we're expecting to see Cha given a real test. Although Cha has been left with a bloodied nose a couple of times we've never really seen him hurt, and Kobayashi certainly has the power to hurt him. Kobayashi is also much taller than Cha, rangier and is a very series test for Cha. If Cha comes through this with a win it's hard to imagine BoxingM doing anything but pushing thee youngster to title bouts sooner rather than later, with a potential domestic title fight later in the year. A loss would his career, but would certainly not be the end of his career and he could easily bounce back down the line.
(Image courtesy of boxingm)
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