In the 1980's the Korean boxing scene was well and truly alive. It had a host of big names and the sport was looking like it was going to be a major one in the country for years to come. Sadly the 1990's saw that hope end, with the sport pretty much getting the rug pulled from under in the country, and struggling through to where it is now.
One of the many Korean fighters to win world titles in the 1980's was Jum Hwan Choi (20-3, 8), who was a 2-weight world champion and one of the few fighter who managed to move down in weight late in their career to achieve success. He was never the clear #1 in a division, but he was certainly a notable figure at both Light Flyweight and Minimumweight and is someone who fans perhaps aren't too aware of.
Today we're going to look at the 5 most significant wins for... Jum Hwan Choi, encompassing his world title wins and another major fight for the often forgotten Korean.
Cho Woon Park (December 7th 1986)
In 1984 Choi came up short in an IBF Light Flyweight title bout against Dodie Boy Penalosa, losing a clear decision to the Filipino. That was his first notable bout, and a huge step up from the opposition that he had been facing earlier in his career. Thankfully for Choi he got his second shot just over 2 years later when he faced fellow Korean Cho Woon Park for the title that Penalosa had vacated. The bout was an ultra competitive one, with Choi doing enough to get a narrow 15 round decision win over his countryman to win the IBF title and claim his biggest win, by far, up to that point. Not only was this a huge win for Chou but it was pretty much the start of the end for Park, who went 3-3-1 afterwards and retired having never won a world title.
Tacy Macalos I (March 29th 1987)
After winning a world title the next toughest thing to do is to keep the title. Around 3 months after winning the belt Choi took on Filipino challenger Tacy Macalos, with Choi looking to make his first defense of the belt. Heading in to the bout Macalos was the Filipino champion and had been unbeaten since going 2-2-2 in his first 6 bouts. Although he hadn't proven himself as a world level fighter up to this point he was a legitimate contender and he showed that by pushing Choi all the way in a very competitive and close 15 round bout that resulted in Choi taking the split decision victory and his first defense.
The competitiveness of this bout left the door open to a rematch and we got that in 1988 when Macalos dethroned Choi, but lets not get too far ahead of ourselves!
Azadin Anhar (August 9th 1987)
Although Choi would twice world titles he really didn't do very well on his travels, and had almost all of his success at home. In saying that he did travel a few times during his career. In fact all 3 of his defeats came on the road. The only bout he won outside of South Korea came in August 1987 when he made his 3rd defense of the IBF Light Flyweight title. The talented Korean travelled to Indonesia for the bout and made light work of Azadin Anhar, who he stopped in 3 rounds. Anhar really wasn't a world class fighter. It appears his boxrec is probably incomplete, but he had done nothing to deserve a world title fight and this was very much an easy defense for the Korean. As his final defense, and his only win on foreign soil this is a significant win, but the competition was lacking.
Rolando Pascua (January 28th 1988)
Choi didn't score too many wins over internationally recognisable opponents, but in early 1988 he did manage to get a controversial decision win over the then 14-0 Rolando Pascua in a non-title bout. The bout saw Choi being dropped but battling back to get a split decision in Seoul. At the time Pascua was an unbeaten hopeful on the Asian scene, making his international debut, but less than 3 years later he scored one of the biggest upsets in boxing, as he stopped Humberto Gonzalez for the WBC Light Flyweight title. Whilst this victory was a controversial one, before Pascua was well known, it did age very well when Pascua shocked Gonzalez, who was then 30-0. It's easy the biggest win for Choi outside of his two world title wins, and is very much a win of note, especially on reflection more than 30 years on.
Napa Kiatwanchai (November 12th 1989)
After losing the IBF Light Flyweight title to Tacy Macalos, in their second bout, Choi dropped down in weigh to challenge the then unbeaten WBC Minimumweight champion Napa Kiatwanchai. The Thai had taken the title from Hiroki Ioka, and had defended it twice before travelling to Korea to take on Choi, who proved to be too good for the Thai southpaw. Choi took the lead early and broke down Kiatwanchai, who was gutsy and gave his all but was stopped in round 12. The gutsy Thai was dropped hard early in the 12th round and then stopped with Choi wailing away on him against the ropes as the Korean became a 2-weight world champion. This would actually turn out to be Choi's final professional win, not only one of his best but also his last.
Sadly for Choi his second reign was a short one as he lost the WBC Minimumweight title to Hideyuki Ohashi in his first defense just 3 months after winning it. He then retired from the sport.
This is just an opinion, maaaan! It's easy to share our opinions, and that's what you'll find here, some random opinion pieces