Despite Covid19 still ravaging the world right now sport is one of the few escapes some of us have, and boxing is obviously the escape we've chosen. Sadly there are very few boxing events dotted about the calendar for the month of January, so when we get them we do need to hope for something exciting, memorable and action packed.
Today, in the first Korean of 2021, we get exactly that as Buffalo Promotion gave us something spectacular in Seoul.
The show was just a 5 bout show, though all 4 under card bouts were incredible. The first 2 bouts from the show were just amazing, non stop 4 round wars well worthy of a much, much bigger event. The second two undercard bouts were still solid, but not quite as action packed as the contests that opened the show.
After 4 brilliantly captivating under-card bouts we finally got on to the main event, and that had high expectations to begin with, as teenager Jong Seon Kang (12-0-2, 6) [강종선] battled Nam Jun Lee (11-7-3, 5) [이남준] in a contest for the WBO Oriental Featherweight title.
Over the last few years Kang has earned a reputation as one of the most fan friendly fighters on the planet and despite being just 19 years old his wars have become some of the most exciting bouts out there. Lee on the other hand was a known tough guy, who had gone the distance against the likes of Shuya Masaki, Masatoshi Kotani and Pan Soo Kim. Together they were expected to make for a very exciting bout. That meant going in we were expecting something special.
It really didn't matter what we expected however this over delivered, from the fight round to the final bell this was fought at an electric pace with brilliant action, and Kang, being Kang.
Early on the bout was fought at mid range, with Kang using his longer, sharper, quicker, jab and establishing control at range. He could, and maybe should, have done that all night long. That however isn't Kang's MO. Instead is made to entertain and from the middle rounds he tried to take Lee out, moving through the gears and taking the fight on the inside, regularly pinning Lee on the ropes and unloading huge shots, getting in and working the uppercuts, firing hooks to the head and body and trying to break down and beat up the legitimate tough guy in front of him.
Lee wasn't there just making up the numbers. He tried fighting back, he tried battling, and he let his own hands go. He tried to maintain the pace and tempo with Kang but couldn't. Instead he had to try and pick his moments, hoping Kang would tire himself out and slow down, two things that never really happened. He dug deep, he landed numerous shots on to Kang's face, and even seemed to leave Kang with a bloodied nose and a very reddened face early on, but even that couldn't couldn't stop the teenager from coming forward.
As the rounds went on it seemed like both men were being chipped away at. For Lee the punishment he was taking was adding up. He had been hurt a number of times, but gutted it out and fired back. For Kang the insane tempo and work rate had to be draining, especially with what looked a badly damaged nose for most of the fight. The accumulated damage saw both men shaken and hurt in round 11, and it seemed like either man could go on to force a stoppage. Amazingly however the men saw out not only round 11 but also round 12.
After the bout somehow went 12 rounds we went to the scorecards, and the judges favoured the 19 year old Kang, who seemed the very worthy winner. Sadly though this was another draining and punishing war for the teenager who is unlikely to have a long career, but will have a fantastically fun one to follow.
As for Lee he's now 37 and we do wonder if maybe he put it all into this bout and should perhaps consider retiring on a high. It was a loss for him, but the bout is a legitimate early for the Fight of the Year, that might well be the perfect way for him to bow out.
Through out the entire 12 rounds there was pretty much no clinching, a nice mix of outside boxing, and inside battling, it was fought at an incredible tempo from round 1 to round 12 and it will, genuinely, go down as one of the best off 2021. It intense, exciting, punishing and totally exhilarating. If you missed it, you need to do everything you can to watch it as soon as possible. It is that good, that violent, that brutal and that exciting!
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