For today's Controversial Clash we go back more than 30 years to a very odd ending that came in a WBC Welterweight bout in the US. In one corner was a popular British fighter enjoying his second reign as a world champion, whilst the other corner played host to a Korean who is now probably best remembered for this one loss, than anything else he did in his career.
The controversial part here is the unique, and strange, ending, but before we get there lets just talk a little bit about the two men involved.
Yung Kil Jung (25-3-2, 17) Vs Lloyd Honeyghan (32-1, 21)
We expect very few fans will be familiar with Yung Kil Jung, unless you we a big fan back in the late 1980's with a great memory and remember this bout, from 1988, and his contest with Marlon Starling in 1989. And nobody willingly remembers that Starling bout. Jung was 24 coming in to this contest and had debuted way back in 1981 as a 18 year old. Despite mixed results early on, going 7-3-2 (4) in his first 12 bouts, he would go on to find his form and reel off 18 straight wins.
Those 18 wins for Jung not only saw him win the Korean and OPBF Welterweight titles but also saw him climb up the rankings on the back of notable victories against the likes of Seung Soon Lee and Nobuyuki Tabata. Sadly for him however his 30 fight career, up to this point, was spent entirely in Korea, and Korean fighters historically do not travel to the West with much success. Even when they are ranked #1 by the WBC, as Jung was.
Britain's Lloyd Honeyghan had claimed European, British and Commonwealth titles before making a huge splash in the US with a massive upset win over Donald Curry to win the WBC, WBA and IBF Welterweight titles in 1986. The win, over the then 25-0 Curry, saw Honeyghan move to 28-0 and become the undisputed Welterweight champion. Sadly Honeyghan would lose the WBA title on political grounds, but would defend the WBC and IBF titles through to 1987, before losing the WBC title to Jorge Vaca, on a technical decision. The loss to Vaca saw the IBF strip Honeyghan, though he would reclaim the WBC title by stopping Vaca in a rematch 5 months after the loss.
Honeyghan's first defense after reclaiming the WBC title saw him take on Jung in Atlantic City, New Jersey. That was the same city that played hoest to Honeyghan for his career defining victory over Curry less than 2 years earlier.
The bout was rather fun from the off, but it was clear the men were on different levels in terms of technical ability. Honeyghan was the much more talented fighter. He was the quicker man and he had a real sharpness to his work. Jung however was the more physically imposing, pressing the action in the first 3 minutes, closing the distance and using his physicality and strength to bully and push around Honeyghan. Jung's work wasn't the tidiest, but it was clear he was there for there upset and there to rough up the champion.
In round 2 we began to see Honeyghan getting on his bike, using the ring, picking Jung off at range with his crisper, sharper punches.Jung was still throwing big bombs, but was taking more than he was giving and was looking marked up around the face by the end of the round.
Rounds 3 and 4 were also good ones for Honeyghan who, despite trouble in the first round, was completely in control by now and the difference in skills were obvious. Jung was trying hard, but being tagged repeatedly and made to look distinctly average by Honeyghan.
It was in round 5 that we got the controversy. With the two men fighting on the inside, a low left hand from Honeyghan dropped Jung who was in agony. He had been caught well below the belt and was writhing in agony as his balls had been blasted. Replays showed how low the blow was, and it was really low.
Jung was unable to continue leaving us in a really weird situation. He had been clearly fouled, albeit accidentally, and was unable to fight on. Common sense suggests this should have resulted in us going to the scorecards for a technical decision due to an accidental foul.
After the bout was stopped however the decision was read out that Honeyghan had retained his title not by technical decision, but by TKO.
There was boos after the result, though in fairness it's unclear if they were booing the result, or the way the bout ended, though Honeyghan certainly didn't seem happy at the ending either.
Interestingly the announcement of the result stated that a fighter "cannot win a bout after receiving a low blow", an odd rule to say the least and one we are curious about. Would this mean a fighter can't win a bout by DQ due to low blows? Or was the rule just open to interpretation?
For us the bout had the right winner, though it very much seems like this should have been a technical decision win for Honeyghan, scored as if round 5 was completed, with a point off for the accidental foul.
That would have been similar to how Honeyghan had had a point off in his first bout against Vaca. Had that happened Honeyghan would have won by technical decision, retained his title and we wouldn't be talking about the bout today. Instead he essentially won by TKO via low blow.
On paper it dooesn't make much of a difference now, more than 30 years on, as to how Honeyghan won, but it's still controversial outcome and we still have Korean fans bringing up the result occassionally.
Was this a controversial bout? Yes! Was the winner the right one? Yes! Did Jung do himself no favours by staying down? Yes...though in fairness he probably was in agony, but maybe should have made more of an attempt to continue if he fancied winning the contest. Notably though he would get another shot at the title.
Honeyghan would lose the title in his next defense to Marlon Starling with Jung getting the first shot at Starling, who easily out boxed the Korean in a drama-less affair.
In the end things probably played out better for Jung, who got a second title fight almost certainly due to the controversial ending of this one.
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