Sometimes fighters were made to be included regularly in this Closet Classic series. We cover one such fighter again today in what, we believe, is his 6th appearance in this series. It's also one of his less well known bouts, yet had everything we could wish to see in a bout. Bombs, both men being hurt, a determined fight back, skills, very different styles. This goes under the radar a lot, but is a great, great bout.
Yong Soo Choi (19-2, 12) vs Orlando Soto (27-2, 19)
Anyone who has followed this series for long will know what to expected from Yong Soo Choi. The teak tough Korean was one of the most exciting fighters of the 1990's. He became the WBA Super Featherweight champion in October 1995, when he stopped Victor Hugo Paz in Argentina. In his first defense he defended his belt in a war with rival Yamato Mitani, in what was their second bout, then took on Orlando Soto from Panama.
Anyone who has seen Choi's previous bouts will know what he's about. For those that haven't, Choi was just the personification of a bad ass. The Korean was all about pressure and workrate, with an iron chin, incredible stamina and a willingness to take one to land one. He was clumsy, defensively open, relatively in terms of foot work, but a physical monster that loved to grind opponents down.
As for Orlando Soto he was more a stylish boxer-mover. He used his feet well, made the ring big, but didn't run. Coming in to this his only losses had been a decision to the Tom "Boom Boom" Johnson, in an IBF title fight, and a DQ loss to Miguel Arrazola. Whilst he hadn't scored any massive wins he had proven to be a decent road warrior, with wins through various parts of Latin America. They included victories over former world title challenger Pedro Villegas tough veteran Raul Martinez Mora and future world title challenger Carlos Gerena.
From the opening seconds Soto was showing off what he could do. He was using his legs brilliantly to control the distance, making Choi fall short, and tagging him at range. Choi was coming forward but made to look confused and lost as Soto's straight punching, hand speed and defensive footwork completely neutralised the Korean's aggression.
Things went from bad to worse for Choi who continued to struggle in round 2, as Soto continued his good start by again boxing and moving. It was nothing original or amazing from Soto, but it was simple, effective and it worked brilliant from Soto.
The hole Choi was finding himself in got worse in round 3 for the Korean, who was dropped...twice! Despite the fight only being in round 3 he looked like he was going to be giving up his title in just his seconds defense. He was being out boxed, out fought, out thought, out sped and hurt. He barely made his way out of the round and it looked like he was about done.
Then we saw the fight back. The heart, the desire, the hunger of Choi began to kick in. He cleared his head and began to move through the gears, taking risks and letting his hands go more often, speeding up his foot work, and fought like a man who was told that his aggression could take the wind out of Soto's sails. From there on it started to become more and more like a Choi bout, with his pressure and zombie like offense taking the fight to Soto.
From there on we had great, intense, and exciting action.
This isn't the usual Choi bout, at least not early on. His inability to cope with Soto's movement makes this very different to his wars with Mitani, Hatakeyama and Sim, but as it goes on it becomes a Choi bout. The drama of the early knockdowns adds to the fight significantly.
This is a real hidden gem and we hope fans do put the 35 minutes aside to enjoy this fantastic, if often looked, war.
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