On May 16, 2008, Koba Gogoladze, 20-2 (8 KOs) and coming off a title challenge loss to Alex Arthur, was looking to bounce back against a rather undistinguished opponent named Ji Hoon Kim, then 13-5 (10 KOs). The fight was on ESPN2, and I watched it -- it was clear from the opening bell that Gogoladze was simply far technically superior than his Korean counterpart, who would rush in with wild, flailing punches. But before the round was over, Kim managed to catch Gogoladze with one of those punches, and suddenly, the night was over -- Kim TKO1.
Since that fight, Kim won four bouts against limited opposition (combined record: 20-20-5) before stepping up again to fight IBO titlist Zolani Marali (20-2, 13 KOs). Apparently, this fight began much like the Gogoladze match, with Marali's using his superior technique to avoid Kim's crude, flailing rushes. But Marali began to tire, and in the tenth he got caught, crumpling to the canvas from a right-left hook combination. The referee stopped the fight (possibly prematurely), and once again, Kim scored a knockout victory in a fight he seemed thoroughly outclassed in. He's now 19-5 (16 KOs) and the IBO Super Featherweight titlist.
It's so hard to gauge a guy like Kim. When I saw him, he was crude -- not just a rough-around-the-edges brawler, but really just lacking in basic technique -- and it doesn't sound like he's changed much. Yet he now has two solid wins against fringe-contender folks, hasn't lost in three years, and is riding a nine fight knockout streak. At the very least, he has pop.
I can't help but think eventually Kim's luck will run out. He really just isn't all that good. But this, as they say, is why they fight the fights. Good on him for surprising us all this far, and best of luck in the future. He'll need it.