Boxing in Korea in 2020 looked like it was going to be something special. The first few weeks of the year saw several interesting bouts take place, and others looked in the pipe line. It seemed like the country was going to give us a year to remember. And then Covid19 happened and a lot of the great early promise of the year fell apart, giving us a long stretch with out fights, and without anything to really get excited about. Despite that there was always the "Battle Royal" tournament looming, and when Korean boxing returned we knew we had "Battle Royal" worth waiting for. Today we get to look back over one of those bouts from the summer for this week's Treasure Trove, and what a bout it was!
Hyun Mo Yang (2-2) vs Jung Hyun Shim (2-0-1, 1)
For those not aware Battle Royal is the BoxingM (or KBM) answer to Rookie of the Year. It pits novices against each other in a knockout tournament, with the winners of each bout progressing to a final bout. This has become one of the highlights of Korean boxing in recent years and is one of the ways Korean boxing has started to unearth some really promising young talent.
Aged 19 Hyun Mo Yang had been a professional since 2019, making his debut in May, when he lost to Tae Gun Um. He had bounced back with a couple of wins but had lost in December 2019 to Ryotaro Nakabayashi in Japan, and had then been out of the ring, losing much of his momentum.
At 21 years old Jung Hyun Shim was the older man, and an undefeated fighter, but his career had began in 2017 and he had been out of the ring for well over 2 years. His momentum was well and truly dead and he needed to inject his career with some new energy and impetus.
Given that both men were novices we didn't really expect much here, but with rookie bouts you never can predict what you're going to see, and that was the case here.
The bout warmed up incredibly quickly and within 30 seconds the men were trading bombs up close in what was almost instantly a phone booth war, there was no feeling out round, they just got down to action. The poor commentator, working for Start TV, struggled to keep up with the action as the men held their ground and landed hooks on each other in a sloppy, but thrilling and entertaining opening round. It seemed like Shim was the hungrier and stronger fighter but Yang was seemingly the one landing the more hurtful shots, countering off the ropes brilliantly throughout an opening round of brutal brilliance.
It woudl have been easy to put the action in round 1 down to nervous energy, and assume they would slow down. They didn't happen. In fact round 2 was fairly similar to the opening round, with the two men firing off two handed attacks back and forth. It was clear neither man had 1-punch power, but they were landing so cleanly and so regularly that each man had their head snapping back at times.
The two men seemed to come to an agreement that the only way to win was to break the other down, and that continued to be the case in round 3 as they immediately got back to work. Once again they were trading right hands, left hooks, uppercuts, body shots and bad intent, in what was becoming less of a boxing contest and more a simple war of machismo and a macho attempt to out last each other. The pace was slowing, but not significantly as the two continued to give everything they had, something did again in round 4 as they dug deep and let leather fly, knowing their success in the Battle Royal depended on it.
This is certainly not a high level bout by any measure. But in regards to great action there are few bouts as intense, exciting and captivating out there. This was like a 4 round Gatti Vs Ward bout. It was two men who's styles, mentalities and hunger matched perfectly and who gave us a true hidden gem.
Running at around 20 minutes, including the decision, this is one you owe yourself the chance to watch. This is fantastic and a true hidden gem among and one of the most fun 4 rounders you are ever likely to see!
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.