Regular readers of the Treasure Trove series of articles will be well aware by now that we absolutely love Korean boxing. The skill level, particularly in recent years, is lower than in many Asian countries, but that the heart, determination and action make up for the lower technical ability. This weekly series has always put action and excitement ahead of skills, and with that in mind we have a real gem to share today!
Sung Jae Jo (7-0, 6) vs Gyung Mo Yuh (3-5-3)
In one corner was the unbeaten 23 year old Sung Jae Jo. Up to this point Jo had had everything his own way, with 6 stoppages from his 7 wins, and he had stopped his previous 5 in a row, including a win over Jong Min Bang for the Korean title in September 2018. He had never looked all that well polished, but in reality he didn't need to be, he was easily dealing with opponents with just his heavy handed blows and his trudging aggression. He certainly had areas he had to work on to go further in the sport but in reality on the Korean scene he was looking pretty solid. The Korean scene might be his limit, but he was certainly going to be a fun guy to watch.
Gyung Mo Yuh was in the other corner. He was a 31 year old fighter who had lost his first 4 bouts and won just 1 of his first 9, going 1-5-3 during that stretch. He had managed to notch back to back wins on route to this fight but they had come at Welterweight, where he had won a Korean title. Despite his "recent success", he had no right to be getting a Korean Middleweight title fight and was easy to over-look as being a legitimate challenger for Jo. Sometimes however it's those who are being over-looked who put in the best performances, and whilst Jo may have been expecting an easy fight he wasn't going to get that. Yuh was going to play his part in what turned out to be a great little war.
The two men clashed in January 2019 and despite the bout looking like a mismatch we ended up a very fun and enjoyable war.
From the opening round the champion was coming forward, looking to let his shots go on the inside whilst the challenger was showing the much more rounded skills, boxing and moving, and looking to control the distance. Despite the mentalities of the men being polar opposites the bout fight would quickly descend into Jo's type of fight, with bombs being thrown toe to toe.
Round after round was intense and both men had to take as good as they got. Although not a puncher Yuh was landing some really clean head shots as he tried to slow down the champion.
Despite the bout getting messy at times, especially when the two men began to tire, the intensity and excitement never dropped and both fought as if they had to give everything they had.
For those who love absolute wars, with heavy head shots, and don't mind defensive workd being ignored as a result this is brilliant. It's crude combatitve carnage and so much damn fun!
Every so often a fight comes along that really surprises us in how action packed it is. It might be a sloppy mess of a fight, but it's still a watchable, almost fun, sloppy mess of a fight. Today we pick one of these from the Treasure Trove, and it's a really fun fight, that's much better on replay than we remember it being live.
Heuk San Lee (10-1-2, 5) vs Gyung Mo Yuh (5-6-3, 1)
Korean based Cameroonian born fighter Heuk San Lee, also known as Abdoulaye Assan, is a man we hope to cover in more detail in a total stand alone article one day. The former Cameroonian standout fled his homeland in 2015 and became a refugee in Korea, boxing to help secure his refugee status in the country. He managed to secure his status after a real battle outside of the ring and adopted the Lee Heuk San name. As part of his fight to become a refugee he essentially had to prove a number of things, such as his life being at risk if he went home and his ability in the ring. In 2017 he won a Korean 154lb title and continued the battle. At the start of 2019 he was 35 years old, 8-0-2 (3) but with a loss to In Duck Seo in March he lost his unbeaten record. He was hoping to end the year on a high as he attempted to capture a the KBF Korean title, taking on Gyung Mo Yuh for the vacant title.
As for Gyung Mo Yuh, he wasn't someone getting much attention at all. He had lost more than he had won, he was 33 and had shown almost no promise early in his career. In fact Yuh had started his career 0-4 way back in 2007, and was 1-5-2 after 8 bouts. He had, in fairness, turned things around going 4-1-1 in his previous 6, but was still mostly fighting at a low level, and lost to the only fighter of any note up to that point, losing a decision to Sung Jae Jo in January 2019. Also, rather notably, this was was going to be his 4th fight of 2019, and he had already fought 23 rounds before stepping in with Lee.
From the opening round it was clear we were set for something rather fun. About half way through the round Lee got Yuh in the corner and went to work on the Korean national, who showed some nice defense skills before turning the tables and taking the fight to Lee, bullying the Cameroonian on to the ropes, time and time again, unloading on him repeatedly. Everything he had taken in the corner was being repaid with interest. Round2 was similar, but Lee was now starting to make Yuh pay for his aggression, landing some clean counter shots.
Yuh wasn't going to be discouraged by the counters of Lee and kept the pressure going in round 3. By now the action was getting sloppier, but we were sold on what we were seeing. We were seeing hunger and will form Yuh, and skills from Lee. We were seeing one man determined to wear the other one out, even if it came at a cost and risked seeing Yuh empty his tank.
For those who like battles of attrition, high volume of heavy leather and don't mind sloppiness slipping in as the fighters tire then this is genuinely great. Even when it gets sloppy late on we still see a number of thrilling, toe to toe exchanges as both men unload.
This might not be the cleanest bout in history but it's a genuine hidden treasure from 2019, and a great example of what Korean boxing managed to deliver last year.
Takahiro Onaga is a regular contributor to Asian Boxing and will now be a featured writer in his own column where his takes his shot at various things in the boxing world.