One thing that seems to sum up many Korean fighters is their insane toughness, few would be described as being classically skilled, but many of their most successfully relied on toughness, a desire to win and incredibly stamina. The great Korean fighters of the past were always a nightmare to fight due to their resilience and this is what made them fan favourites and some of the best fighters too watch. Here we look at the first bout between a little known Korean warrior, and an often forgotten Japanese anomaly in a bout that was a one sided for the most part yet thoroughly entertaining all the same, thanks to the determination of the Korean under-dog, who seemed to come close to a major upset at times.
Shinji Takehara (15-0, 12) vs Sung Chun Lee (1-0-1) I
Japan's Shinji Takehara is a name that fans from the 1990's will be familiar with. He was the first Japanese fighter to win a world title at Middleweight, and was a huge fighter, with destructive power, freakish size and an exciting style. He was flawed but fun and his win over Jorge Castro in 1995 for the WBA Middleweight title was huge, though his reign only lasted 6 months with Takehara losing the belt to William Joppy in his first defense. Rising through the ranks Takehara looked to be a monster on the regional and domestic scene, He had won the Japanese title in his 11th bout, made 4 defenses and then faced off with little known Korean Sung Chun Lee for the vacant OPBF Middleweight, in what was their first bout.
Lee on the other hand was a seeming unknown, Boxrec list him as being 1-0-1 He had apparently on his debut and then took a win over domestic foe Yong Sun Kim a year later. The his record goes blank, with no listed bouts in 18 months before he took the the ring in Japan to take on he then 15-0 Takehara. It seems hard to believe he was only 1-0-1 coming into this bout, though we struggled to find anything to prove other wise. Theres a good chance he did have a more extensive record than we have details about, as some Korean records are incomplete, but regardless he was stepping up big time here. No only was he up against a big punching, unbeaten fighter, but he was also dwarfed by Takehara, who had clear reach and height advantages over him.
Early on Takehara managed to use his foot work and his size to pick off Lee as he came forward. The pace wasn't electric and it was one that allowed Takehara to control the fight with relative ease. As it went on however Lee's toughness and desire began to make things interesting. No matter how much he got hit he ploughed forward, trying to drag Takehara into a war, and as the bout went on he managed to get to Takehara, particularly in the middle rounds.
Starting in round 5 Lee began to close the distance, getting success on the inside and dragging Takehara into his fight. Takehara still managed to get the better of it, but it was clear that Lee was going to go through hell in an attempt to win. This turned into something very entertaining, with Takehara's chin being tested big time by Lee's hooks, and more than once it looked like Lee would go on to turn things around.
Notably the two men would later have a rematch, and in that rematch the two again went to war, and amazingly scored a double knockdown in round 8 of that rematch.
(Please note - The video for this fight is the TV edit and not the complete fight, but is still worth the time to watch)
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