Today's Closet Classic sees us digging into the realms of the relative unknown to share a fight from a Korean Rookie of the year tournament from almost 20 years ago. By it's self that might not sound too tempting, but when we include fights in our Closet Classic series you should realise they are worth watching, and this is no exception!
Hae Won Kim (3-0, 3) vs Hyun Joong Kim (2-0, 2)
Entering the bout Hae Won Kim had only been a professional for a matter of weeks. He had debuted on January 16th 2001, with a 3rd round KO win against Kwang Woo Jo, and had managed to score 2 more wins before January was over. Yes you did do the maths right, that was 3 fights in half a month from Kim. Whilst that's impressive it is worth noting that only his debut lasted more than a round, and all 3 of those bouts were against fellow novices.
Whilst not quite as active Hyun Joong Kim had made his debut on January 19th, with a 3rd round KO over Young Ho Lee, and had notched his second win on January 30th to lead into this bout. He had fought one fewer bout, but had seen just as many pro rounds as Hae Won Kim, having gone into round 3 in his first bout and round 2 in his second bout.
As anyone who has watched Asian rookie tournaments will attest to the quality in match ups can vary. Some are amazing bouts between young and surprisingly polished professionals, with 2019 Japanese Rookie of the Year winner Katsuki Mori being a fantastic example of that. Others however are crude, wild punchers, who have gotten by on power, aggression and the lack of experience of their opponents. We'll admit we've not see the bouts that lead Hae Won Kim and Hyun Joong Kim to the final, though within seconds of the final beginning it was easy to assume they had gotten here simply hitting harder and taking a better shot than their opponents.
From the opening bell the two looked awkward, clumsy and unpolished. But they matched up perfectly. After some attempts at jabs from both and then a clumsy slip, the two began to find their groove, unleashing power shots, with Hyun Joong Kim scoring a knockdown half way through round 1 with a huge right hand. We suspect this was the type of thing that has seen his first 2 opponents begin to unravel, but Hae Won Kim got back to feet and looked to resume the action, despite bundled down later in the round and then dropped a second time.
Prior to the second knockdown it was clear Hae Won Kim was hurt, his leg, which appeared to be hurt on the first knockdown, had become a real problem, and with a 10-7 opening round against him it was clear he was in a lot of problems. Those problems got worse early in round 2, before he turned the tables, dropping Hyun Joong Kim. It was here the pace slowed down, with Hyun Joong Kim seemingly having punched himself out, before being dropped again.
Knowing there was about to be a 10-7 round against him Hyun Joong Kim got back to his feet and came out firing.
We won't ruin the ending, but lets just say this is wild, exciting, crude, and fun. It's something the purists will want to complain about, but in reality we all enjoy this type of crazy war!
When we have some free time we're hoping to add a series of fun articles to the site. Hopefully these will be enjoyable little short features