Korean boxing is a million miles away from it's heyday, which featured some of the most exciting fighters in boxing history with the likes of Sung Kil Moon, Myung Woo Yuh and Jung Koo Chang all fighting during a golden period of boxers from the region. Although it's certainly not what it was, Korean fight fans will be celebrating tonight as one of their fighters scored a huge come from behind victory, showing the heart that the Korean greats were known for back in the day.
The reason for the celebration is the huge upset win by new OPBF Featherweight champion Sa Myung Noh (11-3, 4) [노사명], who upset Japan's Ryo Takenaka (16-3-1, 9) [竹中 良] at the Korakuen Hall, stopping Takenaka in the 10th round of a brilliant bout.
Early on the local favourite looked the better fighter, he showed the better skills and the better boxing mind. He neutralised Noh's offense with good defense and landed his own shots, with the left hook and straight right hand being particularly effective. After 4 rounds the skills of Takenaka had him leading on two cards, 40-36 and 40-37, whilst the third judge had it even at 38-38. It seemed as if the champion was going to simply be too good and experienced for the Korean, who was stepping up massively for this bout.
Takenaka continued to be the better fighter in the middle rounds, though Noh did have moments, and after 8 rounds the Japanese fighter was leading on all 3 cards, with scores of 78-73, 78-74 and 77-74, with Noh being deducted a point in round 8 for headbutts. It looked like all Takenaka had to do was see the final bell to record his 4th defense of the title, however the Korean had other ideas, and refused to just accept a loss.
Noh's hunger saw him land a number of right hands in round 10, resulting in serious facial damage to Takenaka, who had a massive cut on his upper lip. The right hands also forced Takenaka down, twice, and given the injury he was clearly in agony whilst Noh was beginning to take over in a late, and unexpected charge.
Afther the second knockdown Takenaka's team had seen enough and threw in the towel, saving their man from more punishment, and potentially worsening of what was already a terrible injury to his lip.
For Takenaka the loss will be a hard one to swallow. He was leading 87-83, 87-84 and 88-82 at the start of round 10 and looked to only be a couple of wins from getting a potential world title fight. At 32 years it's going to be hard to rebuild and given the injury he could be out of action for a while. As for Noh the win is the biggest by a Korean male in a number of years, potentially since December 2006, when In-Jin Chi defeated Rodolfo Lopez to reclaim the WBC Featherweight title.
Hopefully with a Korean OPBF champion, the first since Min Wook Kim, the country will see boxing get a shot in the arm and a kickstart that it has sorely needed for a while.
(Images courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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