by James Slater – Fast becoming a fan-favourite, due to his relentless, hard-punching approach, 23-year-old banger Ji Hoon Kim of South Korea gets a chance to become a world ruler on August 14th, when he will face Mexico’s Miguel Vazquez for the vacant IBF lightweight title in Laredo, Texas.
Kim, 21-5(18), and last seen earning his shot at the IBF crown on ESPN, when he took out Ameth Diaz inside a single round, is a quite remarkable fighter.. Seemingly unconcerned with defence, the warrior dubbed “Volcano” thrills fans with the way he takes chances; searching each and every time out for the KO. Sure, he’s come a cropper due to this reckless (but damned exciting) style of fighting before – most notable early in his career, when he lost his fifth pro fight via a 1st-round KO – but just lately he’s gotten away with it. And the fans love him, or are beginning to love him, for doing so.
A natural “T.V fighter,” Kim now hopes to climb to the top (or close to it) of his weight class by winning the IBF belt against the capable and never-stopped Mexican known as “Titere.” But will the fan-friendly fighter’s temperament let him down?
Vazquez, 25-3(12) and best known for his last fight, the upset split decision points win over another lethal puncher in Breidis Prescott of Columbia, has never been stopped as a pro and all three of his points defeats have come against good men. Streaking hot prospect Saul Alvarez decisioned Vazquez in the 23-year-old’s very first fight, way back in January of 2006, and the 19-year-old Mexican repeated the job, over ten-rounds instead of four, two-and-a-half years later. Three fights before the second loss to Alvarez, Vazquez lost a ten-rounder to a 20-0 Timothy Bradley.
So, although he has lost to all the big names he has met – Breidis Prescott aside – Vazquez has shown he belongs and that he is at very least a decent enough operator. And that win over Prescott did prove that Vazquez knows how to defuse a big-hitter. Throw in the fact that Kim is even more one-dimensional and focused only on attacking than is the man who flattened Amir Khan in a single round, and you have to concede how the Mexican has a real chance in August.
Having said that, however, Kim starts favourite for me. For though Vazquez is reasonably fast as well as durable, he can be hit and hurt. Prescott had him down in the 1st-round back in July of last year (even though the eventual winner was not too badly hurt) and maybe Kim will have even more success in the early-going in Texas. Indeed, with his bone-crunching power, Kim, if he does catch Vazquez, might just nail him to the canvas!
And then there’s Vazquez’ inactivity to worry about. The co-challenger will have been out for over a year come fight time and this can’t possibly be a good thing. Any fighter who faces the dynamite-punching Kim needs to be as sharp as they can be; especially in the first couple of rounds. Looking at everything, I really do see a win for Kim – perhaps even another quick one.
Kim isn’t too fond of going the distance (the last time was way back in October, 2006, when he won a split verdict down at featherweight) and it makes sense that he will want the fast KO against Vazquez. Going one better than Prescott, Kim will do so in my opinion. If he doesn’t nail Vazquez, though, and instead allows the Mexican to get into his groove, he could possibly lose a decision.
But with the power and approach Kim has, I wouldn’t bet on it!