Earlier today we saw return to Asia for the first time in weeks as a card was held in Gimpo, at the Legend Boxing Gym. The card was a small one, with 3 professional bouts on it, but it was still something major in the world of boxing, which has lacked recently.
The full show was streamed live on youtube and has been left up for fans wanting to watch it.
Sadly we only got about 30 minutes of actually professional action, starting around the 43 minute mark into the video, but it's still something to celebrate for fight fans desperate to watch boxing.
Given the state of boxing in South Korea recently this is positive in some ways, as we really need something to get excited about in the country.
Whilst there are, obviously, questions to be had about boxing taking place at all right now, and social distancing doesn't seem to have been in effect outside of the ring, it's nice to have some sort of normality in the world today.
Back in January the KBM held a small, but meaningful, show at the Kimjunghoon Boxing Center in Pyeongtaek. Whilst the venue was a very small one the card was a very significant one and featured a number of KBM title eliminators. Those bouts seem like they were essentially trying to set up the domestic title scene for the coming months with several interesting matches falling in to place as a results of those contests.
Two of those title eliminators in January took place at 154lbs where we saw teenager Sung Min Yuh (4-0) [유성민] defeat Se Yul Yang (3-5-2, 1) [양세열] and, Do Ha Kim (7-1) [김도하] over-come Seung Hee Lee (4-7, 1) [이승희]. Theses contests set up an excellent looking bout between Yuh and Kim for the title, though at the time there was no date set aside for the bout. That however changed recently, with a date and location being announced by the KBM.
Despite having a date set we still need to wait a while on this one, with the contest scheduled for May 3rd, on a show in Daejeon.
Notably this will be the first title bout for either man, but more interestingly it will also serve as a rematch of the Battle Royal 3 final at Light Middleweight, which took place last November. That bout saw Yuh take the victory by decision and give Kim his sole defeat.
Of the two men it does seem like Yuh has to be regarded as the favourite, given his prior win over Kim and his more impressive skill set, however Kim will be in the ring seeking revenge and will be driven by more than just winning the title.
At the moment no under-card details have been announced for this card, though given the show is almost 3 months away that's not too much of a surprise.
Note Kim was previously known as Yoo Seung Jun (7-1) [전유승] until he fought in his eliminator changing
Earlier today in Korea there was a rush for gold with a trio of WBA Asia titles on the line in Jeonju. The titles might not mean much in the grand scheme of things, but for many of the fighters fighting for them today they are seen as stepping stones towards bigger bouts, and in Korea any sort of stepping stone towards a bout is significant.
The first of 3 WBA title fights came at Super Bantamweight and pit local fighter Min Jang (10-0-2, 2) [장민] Chinese visitor Junhui Zhao (4-6-2 1).
The 19 year old Jang looked the faster, smoother man from the off and controlled swathes of the bout behind his speed and his movement. To his credit Zhao marched forward through out the bout but was made to look slow and clumsy but the local teenager who piled up the rounds without ever really needing to move into any high gears.
After 10 rounds here there was no questioning the decision, with Jang taking the win on the scorecards and claiming his first international title, having previously held one of the Korean Super Flyweight titles last year. On paper this was a good learning experience for the local, though we do wonder whether he has the power to move up through the levels as he matures.
The second WBA Asia title fight was another victory for the Korean fans to celebrate, with 22 year old Woo Hyun Kim (9-1, 1) [김우현] taking a decision win over former OPBF Flyweight champion Keisuke Nakayama (11-6-2, 5) [中山佳祐] for the WBA Asia Super Flyweight title. This was much more competitive than the Super Bantamweight bout and Nakayama was there to win, having genuine moments through out. Kim though played safe, boxed and moved and racked up the rounds, whilst picking his moments carefully. This was a really mature and level headed performance against a good opponent and it's clear Kim has got the potential to go far.
Sadly at the time of writing this bout between Kim and Nakayama is the only one we have scorecards for, with the judging going with Kim 97-93, twice, and 96-94. Those score did reflect the competitive nature of the bout, and like the judges we felt Kim did enough to take the victory.
The third WBA Asia bout sadly didn't go Korea's way with defending WBA Asia Middleweight champion Min Hyun Yang (9-4, 8) [양현민] being out pointed by skilful Italian born Australian based fighter Danilo Creati (6-0, 1) . The very talented Creati dominated much of the bout with his crisp clean punching, quicker hands and smart footwork.
Creati controlled the distance and tempo through out, and limited Yang's success to flashes. The rugged Yang struggled to move through the gears, and despite the occasional clean and solid shot he could never follow up with Creati regaining control quickly every time Yang seemed ready do build some momentum.
After 10 rounds there was no doubting the decision, with Creati the very worthy winner here.
Earlier today in South Korea we saw two new KBM champions being crowned on a very interesting card from the Grand Hillstone Hotel in Jeonju. For those unable to make it to Korea the card was also shown on SPOTV.
The first of those was Kyrgyzstan born Korean Urmat Amankulov (5-0-2, 4) who scored a stoppage win over the game but over-matched Seung Yoon Shin (4-4-3, 2) [신승윤]. The bout was a genuine exciting one, with Amankulov pressing the action and breaking down Shin who needed saving by the referee after taking some pretty notable punishment.
Shin was brave, but the power, consistency and accuracy of Amankulov was simply too much for the 22 year old who was given every chance before the referee finally stepped in for what was a bit of a mercy stoppage.
With the win Amankulov becomes the new KBM Super Featherweight champion.
The other new champion was former amateur standout Dong Myung Shin (3-0) [신동명], who had to dig deep to take the KBM Super Bantamweight title from exciting teenager Han Bin Suh (5-1-3, 4) [서한빈]. Suh tried to set the pace from the opening moments but credit needs to be given to Shin for avoiding a tear up in the early rounds, relying on his polished footwork and clean accurate punching to take the steam out of Suh's early aggression. As the bout went on both men had real moments of success, with Shin having a very good 3rd and 4th round before the momentum began to swing towards Suh, who came on strong in the middle rounds.
In the final rounds a tired Suh couldn't sustain his trademark aggression, despite landing some solid shots that caught the eye. Shin neutralised a lot of what Suh did with his own work and refused to let Suh build too much with out a response. Thwarting any major assault from the teenager.
After 10 rounds there was no real doubting who deserved the win with Shin getting the well deserved victory, and the KBM title. At 31 this was a must win for Shin, who we expect to go on to more notable bouts whilst Suh has time to rebuild, and it wouldn't be a surprise to Suh bounce back, potentially at Bantamweight, in the near future.
One of the biggest complains in boxing is the political discourse that runs through the sport. Be it a promotional politics, politics with the alphabet boys or even at national commission level, there is simply too much political wrangling in the sport, and too many things that are inconsistent, problematic and confusing.
One of the worst countries for the political mess that we've got is South Korea, where there are numerous commissions and political affiliations, including the KBC, KBF and KBA, as well as a powerful management outfit, Korea Boxing M (KBM).
Earlier this week the KBM revealed that they had been holding a convention with the KBF, and whilst they haven't agreed to integrate, they have put down some agreements for the betterment of the sport in Korea.
The two will recognise each other as professional boxing organisations, and will work together. Notably they will not do the same with any other of the political factions in Korea, freezing out the KBA and KABC among others.
As part of their new working relationship they will only have 1 champion, unifying the titles of their relevant organisations to give us an all Korean champion. Connected to that is the fact the two will have join rankings. A huge step in having a single, solid and clear narrative in Korean boxing.
The organisations have agreed that if a fighter affiliated with a gym recognised by either organisation competes in an event run by an organisation they don't recognise, the gym license will be cancelled the fighter will not be recognised by either organisations.
This might not seem like a huge story, but for Korean boxing to have a unified vision is a great thing, and we're really hoping this is something that both parties do commit to long term.
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