One of the best things about these Treasure Trove articles is that we get to relive some fights that caught our attention due to the in ring action, even if we didn't have huge expectations of them going into the bout. Today we look at one such bout that legitimately went under the radar, until the bout took place and we fell in love with it mid fight. And we did so as it unfolded in front of us, and really took on a personality of it's own. That was despite being hidden away on an obscure stream from Vietnam. This bout legitimately has a claim to be the best ever bout, in Vietnam. It was sensational.
Jong Seon Kang (9-0-2, 6) vs Tomjune Mangubat (11-1-1, 9)
Unbeaten Korean teenager Jong Seon Kang had impressed in his international debut, stopping Qixiu Zhang in June 2019, but with 2 draws in his previous 3 bouts there was a feeling that he's wasn't going to far. He had shown some promise, and his win over Ravshanbek Shermatov in March was genuinely notable, but we couldn't stop thinking that his draws showed his limitations and that his unbeaten record was some what fortunate....and not likely to survive much longer. He was fun to watch, but appeared too crude to really go far.
Mangubat on the other hand had been an impressive fighter on the Filipino scene, showing impressive power and promising skills. Sure he'd lost in April to Arnel Baconaje, but Baconaje wasn't an easy opponent for anyone and held a notable win over Brian Lobetania and have given a really good effort against Yasutaka Ishimoto. Mangubat had bounced back from his sole loss with a win over Joffrey Garcia, and seemed to be coming in to this bout with belief, power and a lot of potential. At the age of 22 he seemed to be maturing well and was likely the favourite coming in to this bout.
The bout was for the WBO Oriental Youth Featherweight title and we weren't expecting anything too special. We were, however, very, very wrong with our expectations, and we got something sensational.
From the opening round the Korean was on the front foot, pressing the fight, but having limited success as Mangubat boxed well on the move, soaked up the pressure and landed the better shots. The Filipino really looked comfortable using his jab and his more polished boxing skills seemed to be the key in the early going. Those skills helped Magubat drop Kang in the second round with a sweeping left hook. The Korean got back to his feet but was in horrible trouble when Mangubat tried to finish him off. Kang needed time to recover and backed off through much of the round before regaining his composure.
Mangubat continued to be the better boxer through the middle rounds but the pressure of Kang built and built and built. That pressure began to take it's toll on the Filipino, who began to slow, tired and feel the effects desire and by the later rounds Mangubat had began to fade, and fade fast, as Kang came on strong. That meant the final few rounds were in effect the direct opposite of the early rounds. The skills of Mangubat weren't enough to keep Kang away and rounds 8, 9 and 10 were pretty much all Kang.
The bout had it all, massive momentum shifts, a lot of action, a lot of leather being traded, heart on short from both and two totally different game plans each having their success. This might have been hidden away in Vietnam, but it so deserved a bigger audience!
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.