During the 1970's and 1980's South Korea was one of the major players in world boxing, and one of the countries that was not just a major player at world level but also regularly putting on thrilling, well matched contests. One of the many Korean fighters from that era to make a mark was exciting Flyweight Tae Shik Kim (17-3, 13) whose career lasted only around 5 years but saw him fight some very notable names.
Kim debuted in May 1977 and fought for the final time in May 1982. Despite his short career he managed to accomplish a decent amount, and featured in 4 world title bouts in the space of 18 months. Sadly though his career ended up whimpering out when he was just 25 years old.
With that introduction out of the way, lets take a look at the 5 most significant wins for... Tae Shik Kim, looking at his way up, his signature win and also his last win of note.
Tito Abella (January 14th 1979)
The first win of real significant for Kim came in January 1979, when the Korean fighter was 21 years old and impressive with power. In the opposite corner to Kim was Tito Aballa, a Filipino who would later go on to fight for a world title. Coming in to this fight Kim was 8-1 (6), riding a 5 fight KO streak, and wanted to make a statement, and he did just that, stopping Abella in the 3rd round of a scheduled 10 rounds. That was the quickest Abella had been stopped up to this point and it was a win that aged pretty nicely with Abella bouncing back with 5 straight wins to earn a shot at WBA Light Flyweight champion Yoko Gushiken in 1979.
Chikara Igarashi (November 11th 1979)
Around 10 months after the win over Abella we saw Kim score his second win of note as he over-came Japan's Chikara Igarashi. Although not a big name, by any stretch, Igarashi was very well regarded. By this point in his career Igarashi had been a former Japanese champion and a former OPBF champion and, just 6 months earlier, he had battled WBC Flyweight champion Chan Hee Park, going 15 rounds with Park. Although not a world beater Igarashi was a known tough guy and a real test for decent regional level fighters. Impressively Kim stopped him in 3 rounds, giving Igarashi his 5th career stoppage loss in 44 bouts. It was a real statement win against a recent world title challenger, and the type of win that helped make Kim into a genuine contender.
Luis Ibarra (February 17th 1980)
Just 3 months after beating Igarashi we saw Kim take a big step up in class, taking on WBA Flyweight champion Luis Ibarra. Ibarra was a 26 year old Panamanian, sporting a 19-1 (6) record who had avenged his sole defeat and had won the WBA title just 3 months earlier, upsetting Betulio Gonzalez in Venezuela. Ibarra was, at the time, regarded as a very talented fighter and one of the best Flyweights out there. That was until he ran into Kim, who stopped him in 2 rounds, ripping the the WBA title in what was Kim's career defining victory. This put the Korean on the map internationally, and proved he belonged at the top of the division.
Arnel Arrozal (June 29th 1980)
Sadly whilst Kim had shown he belonged at the top of the division his stay there was, sadly, very short and he only made a singlee successful world title defense. That came in June 1980 when he took on Filipino Arnel Arrozal, a former Filipino national champion and a man who had given Chan Hee Park fits in a WBC world title fight. Arrozal gave Kim real questions to answer, and saw Kim needing to go 15 rounds for the first time in his career, ending a 10 fight T/KO streak from the Korean. Arrozal was a legit contender at the time, and gave Kim a genuine test. Sadly however after this bout Arrozal would start racking up losses and when he retired in in 1987 his record read 23-31-3 (6), by then however he was 30 fighting well above his best weight and taking a who's who of rising US and Mexican fighters.
After this win Kim would make his US debut, sadly losing the belt in December 1980 to Peter Mathebula in a razor close fight in Los Angeles. This would be the end of a 14 fight winning run for Kim and it was the start of the end for Kim as a notable fighter.
Roberto Ramirez (September 4th 1982)
Following his title loss Kim struggled to get going again, losing to WBC champion Antonio Avelar in 1981. He then, finally, managed to string back to back wins in 1982, with the seconds of those coming via split decision against Mexican contender Roberto Ramirez. The win was a controversial one, with the view being that it was home cooking for former Korean world champion. It seemed even Kim knew he was on the slide, and rather than continue on he retired, going out on this win.
The win over Ramirez, as controversial as it was, improved with age and in 1983 Ramirez fought WBA Super Flyweight champion Jiro Watanabe, and ran the legendary Japanese world champion all the way in a razor thin 15 round bout. Sadly after that loss Ramirez was never the same and went 2-3 in his final 5 bouts.
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