Historically South Korea has been one of the strongest countries in boxing, with the peninsula having provided a number of all time greats in the 1970's, 80's and 90's. Sadly though the golden age of Korean boxing is long gone and the country is now without any kind of boxing star. Saying that however we shouldn't ignore the fact that KBM are managing to unearth some real talent from the country, and over the coming we're hoping that talent can be developed, and can shine.
Among the most impressive of the young Korean fighters that are coming through the ranks is the highly skilled, though somewhat frustrating to watch, Sung Min Yuh (4-0). The Korean 19 year old is one of the most naturally gifted fighter in Korea, and looks like he could be one for the future, if he can tweak his mentality.
Yuh's ability had been spotted at a young age. Whilst his full amateur record is unclear reports in Korea are that he had won a silver medal the Boys' Sports Meet before making his professional debut. He had seemingly impressed in the School boy scene, but we've not managed to track down any evidence that he competed any higher than the domestic school boy level.
Yuh, who is part of Daejon Design Boxing, made his debut in March 2019 on a card in Seoul. At the time he had just turned 18, with his birthday coming just 12 days before he fought as a pro for the first time. His debut was in the round of 16 of the KBM "Battle Royal 3" tournament, a Rookie of the Year like tournament that KBM run. On debut Yuh looked talented, speedy and big but just scraped past fellow debutant Jae Woo Kim, with a split decision. Through out the bout Yuh looked the better natural boxer, with more impressive hand speed and better size. Despite looking the better natural athlete he looked very raw, very open and lacked composure when he was letting his shots go, giving Kim opportunities to counter. There was something there, but it was clear Yuh needed real work.
Around 4 months after his debut Yuh returned to the ring for his second bout in the Battle Royal tournament, as he took on Jeong Min Kim in the semi-final of the tournament. This time Yuh, fighting at home in Daejeon, put on a more mature and composed performance. There were glimpses of recklessness, but for the most part this was a more complete performance than his debut as he showed some wonderful handspeed, skills and aggression. He showed some really nice defensive touches for someone so inexperienced and young. Although this was another close fight, it seemed like Yuh had done more than enough to deserve the win he got.
Having impressed in his first two bout Yuh returned for his third pro bout in November, as he took on the then 6-0 Do Ha Kim, who was fighting as Yoo Seung Jun. Kim was 26 years old, unbeaten and had impressed since making his debut in 2018. Kim however was made to look second best by Yuh, who was too quick, too smart and too accurate. Offensively Yuh was landing the better shots, and defensively he was frustrating Kim, smothering Kim's work. It wasn't always pretty, but it was effective from Yuh who was the clear winner after 6 rounds. This win saw Yuh winning the Battle Royal at 154lbs and ending the year with real momentum.
Having won the Battle Royal Yuh returned to the ring back in January, and beat Se Yul Yang to earn a KBM Light Middleweight title fight later in the year. Whiulst his performance against Yang wasn't perfect, there was a lot to like about Yuh, who looked really skilled, but lazy and almost like he wanted to impress the small number of fans in the venue, rather than really doing what was best for him.
Interestingly the win over Yang has set up a rematch wit Do Ha Kim, and the two should be facing off when boxing returns to the Korean scene later in the year.
Although still a youngster it's clear Yuh has talent. What he does with that talent is hard to know, but there is certainly promise here, and fingers crossed he can make the very most of it, and help put Korea back on the boxing map.
So the new year is here! And although we've not got a lot happening in January, we do have more than we expected, with title bouts, eliminators, tournament finals and a little of everything!
Pyeongtaek, South Korea
Yoo Seung Jun (6-1) vs Seung Hee Lee (4-6, 1)
One of two KBM eliminators at 154lbs will see the once beaten Yoo Seung Jun take on Seung Hee Lee. Our understanding is that the winner here will fight for the vacant title later in the year against the winner of the other eliminator.
Sung Min Yuh (3-0) Vs Se Yul Yang (3-4-2, 1)
Talking about that other eliminator, that will see Sung Min Yuh take in Se Yul Yang. Notable if Yuh and Jun win their bouts it would be a rematch of the "Battle Royale" final from last November, and would have an interesting sub-plot of revenge or repeat, as well as being for the KBM title.
Da Won Gang (3-0, 1) Vs Jin Soo Kim (6-7-1, 3)
Another KBM eliminator will be at 140lbs where the touted Da Won Gang takes on Jin Soo Kim. The talented Gang is regarded by those in Korea as one of the countries best talents in recent years, and like Sung Min Yuh he won the "Battle Royale" last year. A win here sets him for a big 2020.
New Jersey, USA
Jaron Ennis (24-0, 22) vs Bakhtiyar Eyubov (14-1-1-1, 12)
The limited but heavy handed Bakhtiyar Eyubov, from Kazakhstan, is up against it here as he takes on touted American Jaron "Boots" Ennis in what looks likely to be a show case for the talented local hopeful.
Vladimir Baez (26-5-2, 24) vs Tuguldur Byambatsogt (1-0)
In a Knock Out Dynamite Final we'll see Japanese based Dominican slugger Vladimir Baez battle against Mongolian professional novice Tuguldur Byambatsogt. On paper a mismatch, but in reality this could be a big break out for Byambatsogt, who impressed us in his semi-final bout.
Ribo Takahata (16-8-1, 6) vs Marvin Esquierdo (15-2-1, 9)
Another final at the Knock Out Dynamite Tournament will see Japanese veteran Ribo Takahata take on Filipino foe Marvin Esquierdo. Notably Esquierdo fought in the first ever Knock Out Dynamite Tournament bout, and netted the highest bonus with an opening round win, will he look for the same here?
Shohjahon Ergashev (17-0, 15) vs Adrian Estrella (29-4, 24)
Touted Uzbek puncher Shohjahon Ergashev looks to kick in the new year as he takes on once touted Mexican Adrian Estrella. Neither of these are the most polished of fighters, but both are heavy handed and we expect this one to be short, but very explosive!
Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa (12-4-1, 11) vs Kazuto Takesako (11-0-1, 11)
OPBF Middleweight champion Shinobu Charlie Hosokawa defends his belt against hard hitting Japanese national champion Kazuto Takesako. This is not expected to hear the final bell, with both men being heavy handed fighters, and will be one of the highlights of the month!
Takeshi Inoue (15-1-1, 9) vs Cheng Su (14-2-1, 8)
Former world title challenger Takeshi Inoue will be looking to defend his WBO Asia Pacific Light Middleweight title against Chinese challenger Cheng Su. Inoue, who is enjoying his second reign as the WBO Asia Pacific champion, will be looking to get a second world title shot in the near future, but needs to get past Su to keep that dream alive.
Kenia Enriquez (22-1, 9) vs Chaoz Minowa (6-2, 5)
Talking about world title fights WBC "interim" female Light Flyweight champion Kenia Enriquez will be defending her title at home in Mexico against Japanese challenger Chaoz Minowa. For Minowa this is a third crack at world level, and a loss here will likely end her hopes of ever becoming a world champion.
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