Typically when we talk about Korean fighters we tend to think about rather basic, come forward fighters who are strong, powerful, tough fighters with limitless energy and an incredible will to win. What we don't tend to speak about too much are the more talented boxers, though who have a defensive mind and can box and move. With that in mind we'd love to take this opportunity to introduce Woo Hyun Kim (9-1, 1). Kim is unlike many Korean in that he likes working at range, getting his shots off and use his feet to create distance, rather than swarming his opponents. Despite the "un-Korean" style he's certainly someone showing plenty of promise.
The 23 year old Kim made his professional debut in January 2014, at the age of 16, and took a 4 round decision win over Chi Hoon Lim. Less than 3 months later he followed that win up with a victory over Jae Kyoon Park, stopping Park in 4 rounds.
Kim's would return to the ring again just a few months later, defeating Hyun Soo Kim with another 4 round decision. He was then given a bit of a break as he took on Se Joon Song in a bout for a Korean Super Flyweight title. Kim would defeat his countryman with a 9th round technical decision to take the first belt of his career, at the age of 17.
Despite the win Kim didn't get much attention and all 4 of his early bouts were fought on "unsanctioned" shows, under one of the auspices of one of the many less notable Korean authorities, rather than one of the more reputable ones. The title he had won wasn't highly regarded as a result and he really wasn't getting much buzz fighting what was essentially a small, private off shoot league within the Korean system. For our British readers this is a bit like the BIBA in comparison to the British Boxing Board of Control.
In 2015 Kim began to step up his competitive and took a narrow win over Seong Yeong Yang. Sadly however Kim's unbeaten record to an end just 2 months later, when he lost a hotly contested 6 round bout to Yo Han Bae. The loss to Bae slowed Kim's ascent but less than 10 months later he returned to the ring and defeated Michael Barnor to claim the "interim" PABA Bantamweight title, his second professional title.
Just 4 months after winning the "interim" PABA title Kim made his first defense, taking a narrow win over domestic foe Jong Min Jun in September 2016. The win was a 12 round split decision over Jung, that proved the youngster could do 12 rounds but still had a lot of work to do if he was going to become something of a prospect. At the age of 19 however time was certainly on Kim's side and he and his team knew they didn't need to rush things.
Sadly we wouldn't see Kim back in the ring for the better part of 3 years following his win over Jung. He wouldn't fight at all from September 2016 to June 2019. And when he did return that wasn't anything too exciting either. Kim's return to the ring saw him taking a 6 round decision win over Chinese foe Junhui Zhao, to move to 8-1 (1).
Although Kim's return after a long break wasn't too notable his follow up bout, this past January, was. That bout saw him defeating former OPBF Flyweight champion Keisuke Nakayama. The bout was a big step up for Kim but his performance was exactly what it needed to be. He used his speed and youth early on, established a lead, made Nakayama work hard to close the distance, and caught him coming in, regularly. Nakayama wasn't there to make up the numbers, but never looked like he was energetic enough for the Korean. Although Kim took the win, with a 10 round decision, he showed plenty of areas to improve and as well as plenty of positive.
Kim isn't close to being a world beater, far far from it, but he's a nice prospect with plenty to like. He's different to many of the Korean fighters out there, in terms of his style and in ring personality, but clearly is a work in progress. He needs to develop his punching technique and power, his stamina is questionable, but he has skills, nice movement and good speed. There's things for his team to work on, but that's part of what makes the youngster from Ulsan so interesting to follow right now, as he slowly moves towards his prime years.
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