There are a bunch of fighters who have become favourites for this series and today we look at a brilliant bout featuring two heroes of the Closet Classic series, as we go back to the 1990's for an often ignored war between a brilliant Korean and a legendary Mongolian. Both of these men have featured in numerous Closet Classic articles are with good reason, they are great fun to watch!
Yong Soo Choi (21-2, 13) Vs Lakva Sim (5-0, 4)
In October 1995 Korean warrior Yong Soo Choi travelled to Argentina, where he stopped Victor Hugo Paz to become the WBA Super Featherweight champion. After wining the belt he defended it against Yamato Mitani, twice, and Orlando Soto. Although not the prettiest fighter from a technical point of the Choi was a bull like warrior, who was incredibly physical, let his hands go happily, and was essentially a war monger in the ring. It was rare for a Choi fight to be anything short of intense, and that was quickly making him a star in Korea. Coming into this bout he was riding a 15 fight unbeaten run, going on for close to 5 years.
Lakva Sim on the other hand was a brilliant Mongolian amateur who turned professional in December 1995 and was raced through the rankings. He had won a PABA Lightweight title on his debut, then dropped down in weight to claim the PABA Super Featherweight title just a few short weeks later. After just 5 bouts he was then given a shot at Choi and the WBA Super Featherweight title. By this point he had been a professional for around 14 months and had just 30 rounds of action to his name. His team, and the fighter himself, didn't fear anyone and Sim's amateur background, as well as impressive performances against the likes of Noree Jockygym, made it seem like he was already ready for a world title fight.
We knew, before the bout, that both guys were physically strong, powerful and aggressive. They weren't out and out brawlers, but were technically solid aggressive fighters who loved battling on the inside and had styles that would gel.
Straight from the off the two men managed to prove the pre-fight perceptions right as they went to war, fighting on the inside with bombs being exchanged almost immediately. Choi, the champion, was the more aggressive in the opening round but the stone faced challenger didn't take long to move through the gears himself and by the mid point of round 2 he was starting to tag the champion with more success.
From there on the bout took off and both men began to step it up, with round 3 being a sensational all out inside war between fighters willing to take a shot to land one. As we went through the fight the action swung one way, then the other, as the two continued to land heavy shots in an attempt to break the other down. Not only was this amazing to watch, but for the most part the inside action was allowed to continue and flow with out stoppages and clinches. This meant we had very little need for the referee, a young looking Tony Weeks in one of his first world title fights.
If you like two tough guys trying to bludgeoning each other with heavy shots up close in a phone booth war this is a must watch. It was brutal and less fighters would have been ruined by the type of punishment they took here. Brutal and brilliant violence.
In this series we've looked at lots of fights and a number of those have featured the same fighter several times. When those particular fighters, such as Rex Tso or Yon Soo Choi, are involved we know to expect something special. Today we feature two series regulars facing off in what was another Close Classic from the late 1990s.
Takanori Hatakeyama (22-0-2, 17) Vs Lakva Sim (10-1-1, 9)
After winning the WBA Super Featherweight title in 1998, in his second attempt at the belt, Takanori Hatakyama made his first defense against Saul Duran, and he earned a draw against the Mexican to retain his title. The exciting Japanese fighter, one of the most popular fighters in the country at the time, would then make his second defense as he took on Mongolian warrior Lakva Sim. At this point in time Hatakeyema was a genuine star, and at 23 years old it was felt he still getting better. His win over Yong Soo Choi, in their second bout, showed improvement from their first bout. As well as improving he was also legitimately regarded one of the most exciting fighters in Asia in the late 1990's.
Lakva Sim entered the bout as a real danger man. His only loss to this point had been a razor thin one to Yong Soo Choi, when Sim challenged the then WBA Super Featherweight champion in just his 6th bout. The only other mark on his record was a draw, in Korea to Bong Chul Kim. Despite those set backs Sim was a real tough out for anyone in the sport. He was physically imposing, heavy handed, set a high work rate and was scarily tough. He was the sort of fighter that took a bomb, and walked forward like it was nothing. He could be out boxed, at least in spurts, but was so aggressive and tough that eventually he found ways to drag fighters into his fight. When they did they took incredible punishment, win or lose.
Unsurprisingly this bout started with Hatakeyama fighting smartly, creating distance and trying to work at range with his footwork. It was the tactic that had helped him to beat Choi in their second bout, and was the type of tactic that was going to be needed to beat Sim, however as with Choi rematch he was also going to need to get Sim's respect.
Hatakeyama kept a similar game plan in round 2 as he did in the opening round, trying to use his feet to create space and negate Sim's pressure. Sadly though his inability to get Sim's respect meant the Mongolian was beginning to build momentum behind his offensive work and gradually began forcing his fight on Hatakeyama. The Japanese fan favourite landed some of the more eye catching blows in the round, but it was clear that Sim was starting to get into his range.
After a couple of decent, but not quite sensational rounds, things really came alive in round 4 as Sim's pressure forced Hatakeyama to really begin to fight fire with fire, and that's where the bout picked up, quickly going from a good fight in a thrilling one. It was clear that Sim was working his way into things but Hatakeyama wasn't overwhelmed, and was having moments of his own. Could the local star hold on, and find a way to neutralise the pressure, or was the challenger going to grind him down?
Whilst not a brutal 12 round fight, like some other Hatakeyama and Sim fights, this was still a thrilling action fight, and real proof of toughness, from both men, for as long as it lasted.
When you have two fighters known for their exciting styles, which mix aggression, power and scary toughness, face off we tend to expect a special type of fight. Today we look at once such fight from the early part of this century, and this really was a properly brutal war that saw the fighter landing heavy leather through, in what turned out to be an instant classic. Despite being an instant classic it's one we suspect most fans haven't actually seen, making it a perfect fight for this series.
Yodsanan Sor Nanthachai (37-2-1, 31) vs Lakva Sim (16-2-1, 13)
Thailand's Theera Phongwan went by a number of names, such as Yodsanan 3-K Battery, which he was called in this fight, and Yodsanan Sor Nanthachai. No matter what name he was using he was always an aggressive, hungry fighter who came forward and looked to take the heads off of his opponents. Due to his style and power he was dubbed the "Thai Tyson" on his rise through the ranks. He had suffered a couple of early set backs, losing twice in his first 10 bouts, before reeling off a long unbeaten run to earn a shot at the WBA title. In many ways he was the Srisaket Sor Rungvisai of his era, a hard hitting southpaw from Si Sa Ket. Like Srisaket, Yodsanan also got his shot on the back of his destructive run, rather than the level of his competition.
Lakva Sim on the other hand a 30 year old Mongolian who had won the WBA Super Featherweight title in 1999 when he beat him and broke down popular Japanese star Takanori Hatakeyama. His reign was a short one, losing the title in controversial fashion to Jong Kwon Baek, but he was owed a second shot due to the controversy of the loss. He had racked up 5 straight wins following his title loss, and had looked destructive against the likes of Hidekazu Matsunobu. Although he was getting on Sim was still very highly regarded for his power, aggression, toughness and thrilling style. He had been unlucky in both losses, both split decision defeats in South Korea to more experienced fighters, and had given everyone he had faced absolute fits with his all out aggression.
Given the fact both men had similar hard hitting styles it's fair to expect this to be a war, and it really lives up to the expectations.
From the opening round both men were finding themselves in range, and both were finding themselves launching some huge bombs, with Sim often forcing Yodsanan on to the back foot and catching him with hard short right hands up top. The Thai responded in kind with some big left hands and nasty body shots. By the end of the first round we were already seeing both men needing to prove their toughness. Things then ramped up a gear in round 2 as both men had moments where their power and aggression forced the other backwards.
With the sun beaming down on the two men, in an outdoor event in Thailand, we would have expected the bout to slow down, a lot, but instead the pace remained hot. The heat and humidity seemed to take their foot work and movement away, rather than their output, and both men continued landing huge head shots and wicked body shots.
Even when the pace did, eventually slow, it seemed that we still had a lot of brilliant back and forth action with Sim the one forcing the pace, with his pressure. Yodsanan, who should have been the man more adapt with the Thai conditions, seemed to be the one flagging more, but even then he still had real bursts of activity and huge power shots in what was a genuine test of both men's toughness and mental fortitude.
We don't think many fans will have seen this punishing war, but really if you're reading this, you owe it to yourself to get 50 minutes of free and watch this all heavy handed, bombs away thriller from 2002!
Every so often we get reminded of a closet class by accident, and that's the case with today's bout, which we stumbled on again recent and remembered just how brutal, exciting and thrilling it was. And also how controversial it was, added to the drama and the story of the fight, which was amazing even with out controversy! This was a bout from Korea that really had it all, and was at the highest of levels.
Lakva Sim (11-1-1, 10) Vs Jong Kwon Baek (20-0, 18)
Although not really well remembered in the west Lakva Sim is an historically significant name in Asian boxing. He was the first ever Mongolian world champion and the first real star from Mongolia, winning world titles at Super Featherweight and Lightweight and being the thorn in the side of bigger name fighters through the 1990's and early 00's. Wearing a weathered and weary face Sim was tough, heavy handed, exciting, aggressive and brutal. He was the product of the tough Mongolian conditions and having been a stellar amateur he was fast tracked, winning the PABA on debut and challenging for a world title in his 6th bout.
Although Sim came up short in his first world title bout, it only took until his 13th professional bout for him to claim a title. That bout saw Sim travel over to Japan and stop the hugely popular, and up to that point unbeaten, Takanori Hatakeyama to claim the WBA Super Featherweight title. He then travelled to Korea to make his first defense, taking on Jong Kwon Baek.
The then unbeaten Jong Kwon Baek was a rising hopeful of Korean boxing. He had won the Korean Rookie of the Year before winning the Korean and OPBF Lightweight titles. His early promise and power had seen him stop his first 11 opponents, and then go on a 7 fight T/KO run coming into this bout. He had proven to be exciting, explosive but was relatively untested, and even his title wins had been over limited opponents, such as Ali Albaracin. Although he was stepping up massively he had home advantage and the momentum of an unbeaten record.
The bout started, like many, with the men trying to figure each other out. It didn't take long for them to begin letting shots go though, with bombs being thrown within the first 90 seconds or so. It wasn't an all out fire fight straight away, but it was clear both were willing to let shots go and towards the end of the round, it had started to show signs that we could see something special.
The pace began to heat up in round 2 and early in round 3 the bout had become a thrilling war with Sim applying pressure and forcing Baek to fire back, as the two began to trade hooks and uppercuts. This continued through round 4 as the pace and tempo of the bout increased, with Baek trying to stamp his authority on the bout and Sim trying to prevent the local favourite from ahead of steam.
The fourth round really was something special as we saw two incredibly tough men landing bombs on each other and although round 5 was a little bit exciting the two men really did continue to land bombs through bout, with round 6 being another exceptional round that saw both men proving their incredible chins. That led brilliantly to a brutal 7th round, as both men again had their will to win tested.
Controversy struck in round 8, when referee Stanley Christodoulou deducted a point from Sim, but that didn't change the in ring action, which continued to be brutal, punishing and thrilling.
We won't ruin how this one ends, but if you like seeing two strong, powerful, tough guys go to war, this is right down your alley. A sensational, over-looked an brutal bout, with a touch of controversy, and a lot of action! A brilliant bout!
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