10.19.03 – By Murali Para: Last night saw an intriguing and compelling ring war between Manchester’s Michael Brodie and the tough Korean In Jin Chi for the WBC featherweight title of the world. The fight was a treat for boxing fans in the UK on many levels. It was a contest that was viewed as an even money fight by the pundits and it was between two genuinely world-class operators who both had all-action, come-forward styles of fighting. On the line was the WBC featherweight title vacated by Erik Morales after his move up to 130 lbs. The fight had been billed as a “proper fight, proper title” and for once there was no exaggeration. It was the first WBC fight to be held in the UK for some 3 years.
Michael Brodie has long been considered as one of the unluckiest fighters in British boxing, having been denied the WBC super-bantamweight title against Willie Jorrin in a hotly disputed decision. Many felt Brodie had done enough to win in spite of suffering a knockdown en route. Brodie has been involved in some decent contests at featherweight since moving up in weight, most notably with the rugged Pastor “Mad Cow” Maurin last year on the Hamed-Calvo undercard. Brodie knocked down Maurin – something Barrera could not do in 12 rounds – and was himself knocked down on his way to a well-deserved points decision in a thrilling fight. Most recently Brodie outpointed Juan Cabrera in a very impressive boxing display.
The Korean In Jin Chi is a fighter who probably hasn’t fought the same level of competition Brodie has consistently but who is a tough customer for anyone, as he proved in 2001 by taking the formidable Erik Morales right down to the wire in a fight that most felt he lost only by the smallest of margins. Morales was probably not quite at his best but the way the Korean took the fight to El Terrible was admirable and Chi landed clusters of punches in a toe-to-toe war with the Mexican in which he never slowed his relentless, all-out attack. A shot at the WBC title was just as well deserved for Chi as it was for Brodie.
The stylistic match-up of the two fighters promised to be a good one and that was the way it turned out. Looking at the strengths of the two boxers before the fight you would say that Brodie had the superior boxing skills. Chi was perhaps slightly easier to hit but Chi was definitely durable and less vulnerable in the chin department than Brodie. Both fighters were impressive offensively, Brodie with his left hooks to the body and Chi with his endless combinations to body and head. My impression before the fight was that if Brodie could box and move for several rounds of the fight then any toe-to-toe exchanges he got drawn into and lost out in would not prevent him from securing the decision win. But Chi clearly had other ideas.
This is how I saw the fight—
Both fighters come out somewhat tentatively and each begins to get an idea of the other’s style. There is an unfortunate clash of heads only seconds into the fight in which the top of Brodie’s head comes together with Chi’s face. A lot of blood appears straight away on the top of Brodie’s head and Chi holds his face in pain. This incident seemed accidental but would be the source of a scoring controversy later on. At the time the ref seemed to look at all corners of the ring vaguely but did not raise his hand or finger and didn’t signal a point deduction clearly – as he would later claim that he did. Brodie landed a good left hook to Chi’s body and there was a close exchange between the fighters to close the round.
The fight comes alive in this round and begins to show the potential of being a classic. Brodie again whips in good left hooks to the body but gets caught by a barrage of punches from the Korean on the ropes. Chi goes first to the body then to the head and Brodie goes down for a count. Brodie gets up and Chi goes in for another attack. Brodie is pushed to the canvas again – no knockdown this time. Brodie weathers the storm though and begins to come back strong with more body shots and an upper cut.
Brodie is somewhat more cautious this round having tasted the Korean’s power and falls back on his boxing skills. There are more left hooks from Brodie and a few jabs as Brodie tries to keep his distance. Brodie then drives Chi to the ropes and launches another body attack in a frenzy of activity. Brodie lands multiple body shots and then uses some head movement and backs off. Chi has some successes but very few compared to the resurgent Brodie.
Brodie seems to trouble the tough Korean with a punishing body shot. The home fighter once again uses very good boxing skills and proves to be an elusive target. As in the last round Brodie pushes Chi to the ropes and unloads clusters of punches. There are some good punches from Chi but not many. Brodie gets by far the better of the exchange. It is as if the knockdown spurred Brodie into action in this round and the previous one. An upper cut and a right hand from Brodie close the round.
Just when it seemed that Brodie was in full command, control of the fight passes to Chi. The Korean starts fast and tears into Brodie with combinations. Brodie seems a bit low on energy after his good work in the previous two rounds. There is another accidental clash of heads but nothing comes of it. Brodie lands a body shot and a combination or two but the better work is done very clearly by Chi – who seems to have Brodie in trouble at some points.
In his corner Brodie is made aware that he didn’t perform well in the previous round. As a result Brodie comes back out fired up and determined to get back on top. Brodie boxes well using a good variety of punches – jabs, upper cuts, right hands. Chi finds himself once again backed up on the ropes where Brodie mixes up his attacks to body and head. Brodie is using good head movement at times and is the dominant fighter without doubt. I have the fight even after 6 rounds.
The Manchester fighter initiates the attack with a left hook and a right cross that are placed very accurately. The now familiar scenario of Brodie delivering shots to Chi when backed up on the ropes is once again in effect here. Brodie is landing his usual range of shots with particular emphasis on the body. There are also some good upper cuts to the head. Chi is firing shots but very few are connecting. Brodie resumes control of the action.
This is one of the few rounds in the fight where one fighter doesn’t convincingly get the better of the action than the other. Brodie starts the round with punishing shots and hurts Chi to the body. But the Korean – as he showed against Morales – is unstoppable. Chi comes back strong in the second half of the round as Brodie begins to fade slightly. Brodie’s hard work in the previous few rounds seems to be catching up with him.
This fight is proving to be one of the most entertaining in a British ring this year. Especially in the way it swings one way and the other. In this round Chi has probably his most success since he scored the knockdown. Brodie tries to use his jab but Chi walks through it and lands hurtful combinations and right hands. Brodie is clearly troubled by Chi attack here and reels from it. Towards the end of the round Brodie begins to fire back some punches of his own but not enough.
After his worst round since the knockdown Brodie knows he has to get back into the fight at this point. His left eye is beginning to swell as it has done in several of his recent contests. Brodie is clearly tiring so reverts to his boxing skills. The Manchester fighter lands with some good combinations and jabs in addition to his trademark left hooks to the body. Once again though Chi will not give in and closes the round with some good work. A close round but Brodie does enough.
This round begins quite slowly with neither fighter really landing many shots of any significance. Chi is the more active fighter though and begins to take the lead role in the exchanges. Brodie is looking spent and doesn’t have too much to offer in this round. Chi steps up the pace in the second half of the round, connecting with some clubbing right hands. Brodie has no reply to these punches from Chi in spite of his gallant efforts to stay with the pace set by the Korean. Chi does the better work.
The final round of this tremendous to and fro battle. Chi begins to throw punches first and lands often as Brodie tries to jab and move away. Brodie replies with a few left hooks but Chi is getting the upper hand once again in the exchanges, with Brodie struggling in vain to match the Korean’s work rate. The home fighter connects with a good shot here and there but Chi is by far the busier and fresher fighter. Brodie tries hard but comes off second best.
There was a lot of controversy surrounding the scoring of this fight. It took many long minutes for the scorecards to be collated, much longer than should have been necessary. The initial scorecards read 113-113, 112-114 and 112-113 in favour of In Jin Chi by majority decision. My scoring of the fight was 115-114, also in favour of Chi. But here is the controversial part. The official scoring supposedly includes a point deduction from Brodie for the accidental head clash in round one. As mentioned previously, I don’t think the referee signalled a point deduction clearly in round one. And if he did I still don’t understand why Brodie had a point taken off and not Chi, as the clash of heads seemed accidental and not the fault of either fighter. In any case Jose Sulaiman has now ruled that the fight is a draw. This is apparently because the second scorecard (112-114) had a two-point deduction on it instead of taking a single point away from Brodie. This is all very confusing but the result seems to be a draw and there is already talk of a rematch.
For my part I believe Chi did enough to win so whatever the result was, I wasn’t going to be too outraged by it. Equally I don’t agree with the point deduction away from Brodie, so if the judges thought that Brodie deserved a draw even after a point deduction then a draw probably is a fair result. And I welcome a rematch, which would be another great fight. But the scoring controversy isn’t really helpful here and doesn’t make the WBC look good. In the rematch I would favour Chi because he seems to have less taken out of him in these epic battles than Brodie does, and if a rematch takes place abroad, Brodie will no longer have the Manchester crowd behind him.