Our final One to Watch for 2019, or rather our first one to watch for 2020, sees us focus on Korea where we had a really surprising amount of great action in 2019.
The One to Watch?
Sung Min Yuh (3-0) Vs Se Yul Yang (3-4-2, 1)
January 5th (Sunday)
Firstly lets make it very clear, we love boxing in Korea! The Korean scene is starting to get off life support, at long, long last, and the KBM system appears to be leading the charge and slowly developing a workable eco-system based on developing fighters from novices to title fighters. Here we see one of their most promising young prospects moving a step towards a title fight as he fights in an eliminator. In the opposite corner with a tough, but limited, foe, looking to get his career back on track after 3 straight losses.
The 18 year Sung Min Yuh debuted in March, and despite struggling to get a win over fellow debutant Jae Woo Kim he managed get better through the year, and closed 2019 with a big domestic win over the then 6-0 Yoo Seung Jun. That win over Jun was a stellar victory for the youngster, who showed a good boxing brain, dictated the distance, landed good solid counters, and also showed a willingness to mix it up when he needed to. It wasn't a flawless performance, far from it, but for a youngster in their third fight there was a lot more positives than negatives to take from the bout. Despite being a Korean fighter he shows smart defensive work and looks rather slick, not a word we would often use to describe a Korean fighter.
Aged 23 Se Yul Yang is a bit older than the teenage hopeful, and a bit shorter, but he is also much more experienced and aggressive. He's been in tough, recently facing Japanese hopeful Rei Nakajima on the road, and has lost his last 3 however he shouldn't be written off here. He has proven he's tough, he's game and he comes to fight. His limitations, lack of power, and relatively short stature will always be a problem at Light Middleweight, but he takes a shot well and comes back looking to return fire with interest. In many ways he's your typical Korean domestic level fighter. Lots of will but limited skill.
What to expect?
We are expecting to see Yang's aggression really forcing the best out of Yuh, who will need to be at his defensive best. If Yuh can establish his jab, control the distance and box at range he can make this easier for himself, but we have seen, time and time again, that Yang will take risks, rush forward, cut the distance and let shots go. Yuh will be able to rack up rounds behind his boxing, but will, sooner or later, get dragged into a brawl, and it's he responds to those moments that really matter here.
The bad news?
Don't expect world class skills. We like Yuh a lot, but he is still a novice, and doesn't appear to have had a strong amateur background. Yang is pretty much a limited action fighter. Also these two could end up having styles that clash like curry on mash potato.
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.