Back in the 1980's and early 1990's the Korean scene was known for it's all action wars, it's tough nut fighters and the "punch, punch, punch" mentality that many of it's boxers had. It a number of talented amateurs but on the whole they tended to be very aggressive fighters and when they turned to the professional ranks they continued to see offense as their best defense. It was due to this aggressive style that their fighters were admired and that fans came in droves to see their national heroes in action. The styles of the Korean will be seen regularly in these Closet Classic articles, and today we look at one such fight.
Jung Il Byun (8-0, 4) vs Victor Rabanales (36-10-2, 19)
In 1988 Jung Il Byun made headlines for a protest he had the Olympics, crying in the ring following a loss against Aleksandar Hristov. He turned pro in 1990 and was fast tracked debuting in 8 rounds before moving on to 10 round bouts and beating the experience Rey Paciones in 1992, in just his 7th bout. Just 2 fights later his backers felt he was ready for a world title fight and brought over Mexican fighter Victor Rabanales, the then WBC Bantamweight champion.
Despite being an inexperienced professional Byun was quick, aggressive and tough. His amateur background was strong and Korea needed a new boxing star, following the retirement of Jung Koo Chang in 1991 and the impending retirement of Myung Woo Yuh, who finished his career just months after the Byun Vs Rabanales fight.
Rabanales on the other hand was an excellent, and criminally ill-remembered. Rabanales had lost 3 of his first 4 bouts, he was 8-5-1 after 14 bouts and 15-9-1 after 25 bouts. He would however battle back through that poor start winning 21 of his following 23 bouts Cesar Soto, twice, Jose Valdez, Yong Hoon Lee, and Japan's legendary Joichiro Tatsuyoshi. His only loss in that 23 fight run was a controversial one to Greg Richardson. He was as world class as they come, and had shown no fear when fighting on the road.
What we got when Byun faced Rabanales was a fantastic fight, combing high work rate, technical skills, power shots from both and real will to win. It wasn't an all out brawl, but it was a fight that combined boxing skills early with brawling late as desperation began to come to both me. Rabanales was often the one on the front foot, pressing, but when Byun held his feet the two traded and Byun certainly held his own.
This is a forgotten classic from a by gone era of Korean significance in boxing. This is a class that every fan deserves to watch, and whether you agree, or disagree, with the result the fact the bout was great cannot be argued.
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