Today we look at one of the greatest Flyweight bouts of the 1990's. A bout that was sensational through out and featured a true legend of the sport, in what would be his final bout. In the opposite corner to the the legendary man was a world champion looking to make his first defense in a second weight class. We would have expected something very good, given the men involved, but we got something that exceeded good. Something truly brilliant.
Muangchai Kittikasem (14-1, 10) vs Jung Koo Chang (38-3, 17)
In one corner was WBC Flyweight champion Muangchai Kittikasem a 22 year old Thai who had won the IBF Light Flyweight title in 1989, before moving up in weight and stopping fellow Thai Sot Chitalada in 1991 to become the first 2-weight world champion from Thailand. The Thai was a heavy handed and aggressive fighter. Although not a technical genius Kittikased was a strong, powerful fighter, who came forward had a very under-rated jab and was defensively a smarter fighter than he will ever be given credit for. As with many aggressive fighters Kittikasem's issues were that he could be caught coming forward and that was an issue that we had seen suffer his sole loss, to Michael Carbajal in another great bout.
In the other corner was the "Korean Hawk" Jung Koo Chang. A legend of the 1980's and one of the greatest ever Light Flyweight world champions. Chang had monopolised the WBC Light Flyweight title for a good chunk of the 1980's before retiring in 1988. He made a comeback in 1989 and lost 2 of his 4 comeback bouts coming into this, but they had been a loss to the great Humberto Gonzalez and a very close loss to Sit Chitalada, in their second bout. At his best Chang was a legendary swarmer. He set a high output, had under-rated power, fought with an almost unique rhythm and managed to somehow avoid a huge number of shots from his opponents. His ability to be aggressive yet elusive was something else, and he really was something very special. By 1991 however he was a faded force, even though he was only 28.
Given the styles of the two men we knew we could end up getting something very special. And we did!
The first minute or so was spent with the two men feeling their way into the bout. This, almost slow, start wouldn't have given any hint of what was to come, but was very smart and high level stuff, as both men spent about 90 seconds seeing what the other had. And then sparks began to fly as we started to see the two men letting their hands go. It wasn't an all out war, but there was several exciting exchanges in the first round that showed what we could get.
Round 2 started a lot quicker than the opening round and the exchanges and flash points from round 1 became more regularly in round 2 as we started to see a real fight unfurl in front of us. Round after round the pace began to heat up as we saw more and more glimpses of Chang's brilliance. He didn't look the fighter he once was, but he still looked like a world class fighter, and someone who still belonged at this level.
To begin round 5 Chang dropped Kittikasem, with a left hook. The Thai was up quickly, but would be dropped again before the round was over as the Korean great began to show that he could do it, that he could end up beating the Thai, who struggled to see out the round. Kittikasem wasn't going to just go away however, and after recovering his senses he began to fight fire with fire.
We'll leave the rest of the fight to your eyes, rather than ruining the drama, excitement, twists and turns of the final 6 rounds but this really had it all. This is a fight that could easily be from a movie with the action, intensity and volume of punches, along with the drama and momentum shifts.
This genuinely had everything fight fans could want, and it truly goes down as one of the best Flyweight bouts, one of the bout bouts of the 1990's, and a bout that if you've never seen, you need to!
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