In the 1980's Korean boxing had a number of notable stars that really helped make the country a boxing power house. Fighters like Jung Koo Chang and Myung Woo Yuh are obviously two of the biggest names the country had but they are certainly not the only major Korean fighters of the era. They also had two men who made their names much here up the scales, and based their careers around power, toughness and bombs. Today, in this weeks Closet Classic, we look at the time two of the Korean big lads clashed, and gave us something special.
Chong Pal Park (46-4-1, 39) Vs In Chul Baek (43-2, 39)
In one corner was 28 year old smashed Chong Pal Park. He had struggled early in his career, going 3-1-1 in his first 5, but had built himself a reputation as one of the most destructive fighters of the era. He had won the Korean and OPBF Middleweight titles, before later claiming the OPBF Light Heavyweight title and then, in 1984, he won the IBF Super Middleweight title. He had entered that would title bout with a record of 33-3-1 (31) and was only 23 years old! He went on to make a number of defenses of the IBF title before the later becoming the WBA champion in 1987, though lost that title less than a year later.
Though out the later part of Park's career we had seen countryman In Chul Baek make his mark and fight himself to a position where he was pretty much a contender himself. After 45 fight Baek was himself a veteran who had won national and OPBF honours and was knocking on the door of a second world title bout. He had previously fought for a world title at 154lb, but was stopped by the monstrously hard hitting Julian Jackson and immediately moved up in weight, winning the OPBF Middleweight title. He moved up further for this bout, which took place a little over the Light Heavyweight limit, allowing both men to essentially forget about cutting weight.
The bout had the ingredients to be a total thriller from the off. It had two men who could bang, both of whom could take a shot, despite having stoppage losses, and it featured a battle for national bragging rights. It also had the two men knowing the winner was almost certainly getting a world title fight, whilst the loser may end up seeing themselves needing to hang them up. Win or lose, this was going to be one of the fights that defined their career.
The opening minute or two saw both men trying to establish their jabs, get a feel for the other and keep the heavy artillery locked away. Stiff, heavy jabs were the order of the day with Park looking the busier man and the more natural. Baek however wasn't being dissuaded and even when Park caught him with something big he hardly blinked. By the end of the round Park was landing heavy leather and Baek was still warming up. It seemed like the former world champion was going to have too much for his domestic foe. Round 2 saw Park continue to let loose the bombs that had taken him to world glory, and Baek's chin was getting a very real test, as was his midsection. That was until Baek decided to fight fire with fire and started to let his own right hands go. Although Baek began throwing heavier shots himself he continued to be out worked for much of the round, though was having moments, especially later in the round.
With both men wide awake and starting to dig into their bag of weapons the pace increased in round 3. Baek was on the front foot, pressing and pressuring whilst Park was trying to fight back off the ropes. Both were landing bombs, both were having their chins check and both were looking to win what was a real tough man fight. Amazingly both men seemed to take solid shots incredibly well before firing back themselves. That was until Park went down. He was up at about 6 and stumbled through much of what was left of the round, falling into his corner at the bell.
The end seemed nigh for Park as we went into round 4 but the former champion showed the heart of a champion and recovered well enough and put up a fight through the round. That was despite showing signs of being hurt when Baek landed clean. Not only was Park showing that the clean shots were hurting him, but his left eye was visibly marked and his own successes were becoming less frequent. With his power, experience and toughness however Park wasn't going to just fold, despite looking exhausted.
Park gritted out several torrid rounds as Baek unloaded what he had, tiring himself out in the process. This allowed Park some success as the bout went into the middle rounds. By then the action was crude, wild but thoroughly entertaining as it began to look like a case of the two men would simply fight until one could fight no more.
If you like brutal fights, huge head shots, intense back and forth, Rocky-esque heart and determination and chins that seemed to be made of something else this is seriously worth your time. A truly fantastic all-Korean war of attrition.
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