It'll be no surprise at all if we said that the Korean boxing scene isn't what it once was. Back in the 1970's and 1980's the country was a hive of boxing activity with numerous world champions and countless top contenders. Unfortunately that 70's and 80's were a long, long time ago and right now those memories are just distant memories.
The state of Korean boxing is somewhat summed up by the case of Jong-Min Jung (4-6, 1), pictured, the current South Korean Bantamweight champion. Yes, the national champion has a losing record.
It'd be possible to defend Jung if his career started 0-6 or 1-5 before he went on a short but impressive winning run, unfortunately though his career has never really gotten going and he's actually lost 2 of his last 3. That alone would be bad though it's made worse by the fact that the Bantamweight scene in Korea is awful to the least, as summed up by the fact Jung beat Sung-Baek Noh (now 3-6-2) for the title last year.
Although not a great fighter Jung has been unfortunate for various reasons. Firstly he's often fought above Bantamweight and has been as high as Super Featherweight. Add the fights above his natural weights to the fact he's been in with the world level Jung-Oh Son, who gave Koki Kameda an absolute headache last year, and the OPBF ranked Yoshihiko Matsuo and you can understand why he has a losing record.
Although Jung has got a losing record that's probably not his biggest issue. His biggest issue is that he completely lacks fire power. His sole stoppage victory came against Noh in his title fight and whilst he has only been stopped once himself he lacks the fire power to keep opponents honest and this will be an issue.
In the opposite corner to Jung on February 9th will be his first challenger, Ye-Joon Kim (6-1-2, 1) a fighter who boasts a much better record than the champion and hasn't been beaten since his second professional bout, which came back in March 2012.
Since turning professional in 2012 Kim has had a somewhat easier career than Jung. He has been allowed to fight in and around the Bantamweight division in every fight, never venturing above the Super Bantamweight limit where he has fought most of his career. As well as fighting at his natural weight Kim has also never faced a fighter ranked as highly as Jung-Oh Son or Yoshihiko Matsuo.
Whilst Kim's record is much better than that of the champion it's also worth noting that Kim well have lost both of the fights that were judged as draws and was run very close in bouts with Masatoshi Tomita and Pil-Joon Kim. Had those 4 bouts gone against him he'd have been sitting with a record of 4-5 himself, and these bouts have been at a much lower level than some of Jung's. Put in to context then, these fighters are actually a lot more even than their records indicate.
From the footage available we have to say that Kim doesn't look as good as his record indicates. He has some good traits though they tend to be outweighed by his bad ones, for example a poor looking defense, a lack of power and his shots often lack the technical finesse that one would like to see. That's not to say he can't throw punches, but they tend to lack any visible snap in them, something that perhaps explains his lack of stopping power. If he got taken to a good gym in perhaps the Philippines we could see a lot of his issues being tightened up though unfortunately we don't imagine someone will give him the opportunity to work on his skills.
For Jung the footage is equally as interesting. We'd have expected, from his record, someone who looked like they lacked cohesion in the ring. Interestingly however Jung looks a lot more skilled than perhaps expected. He shows glimpses of good movement, the ability to switch hit, a nice crisp looking jab and the surprisingly ability to set some traps, unfortunately though all of those traits are only shown for short flashes of time. It appears, as with Kim, that there is a good fighter there, though the polishing needed to get the most from him is something the coaches he has, are unable to provide him.
Having been able to see a bit of both men, we think that Jung has more variety to what he does. He's not as "Korean" as some would like to see in the ring, though he's certainly got talent and has learned a lot from his losses.
Whilst we expect others to be picking Kim, based on his record, we'll be leaning to Jung who we believe is the more naturally talented and the better Bantamweight. We'd not massively shocked if Kim won, though we would be very surprised if either man managed to score a stoppage with neither showing KO power so far and neither looking particularly frail so far in their career.
Although highly competitive, despite their records, we don't see this bout being as entertaining as the other two title bouts on the show which of course include the WBO female Minimumweight title bout between Su-Yun Hon and Mako Yamada and the Korean Light Welterweight bout between Taek-Min-Kim and Ja-Ik Goo. Together however the trio of title bouts should provide fans with a bit of everything in what looks like a fantastic card for the Korean audience who we believe can catch all 3 bouts on MBC Sports Plus.
Having canned the old "Full Schedule" of Asianboxing we have instead decided to concentrate more on the major bouts. This section, the "Preview" section will look at major bouts involving OPBF and national titles. Hopefully leading to a more informative style for, you the reader.