Kim spells biggest danger
to Marali’s ‘Untouchable’ status - by Terry Pettifer
South Korea’s Ji Hoon Kim (18-5-1, 15 knockouts) spells the biggest danger thus far to the status and future of South Africa’s IBO world junior lightweight champion Zolani “Untouchable” Marali (20-2, 13 knockouts). The eagerly- awaited shootout between the 32-year-old Marali, who’s already a four-time world champion, and his 22- year-old challenger from Goyang City in South Korea, headlines the Emperors Palace bill on September 12 that has fittingly been billed “NIGHT OF THE GLADIATORS”.
Yet it is the banner attraction that
matches Marali and Kim that should attract
most international interest, especially in view of Marali’s recent #7 ranking in the WBC.
“Marali could earn a shot at the WBC
junior lightweight crown, but it’s imperative
that he comes out tops against the vicious punching Kim” said Golden Gloves Promoter Rodney Berman.
That proviso could, however, be a lot
more dangerously attained than Marali’s
ultra-confident trainer Colin Nathan
would have us believe, particularly
when one analyses the records of both fighters. Moreover, it’s significant that
Ji Hoon Kim’s reputation is such that
the whole of Korea will obtain
live visuals of the fight,
per courtesy of SuperSport!
Zolani Marali’s hitherto
triumphs have been fashioned
around his razorsharp
skills, a southpaw jab of unerring precision and the fact that he’s taller than
most welterweights. Not that Marali’s albatross-like wingspan is infallible…
whose is? But the most reassuring aspect of the colourful South Africa’s
many gifts, is his ability to fire jolting two-handed combinations ‘on the inside’,
thus discouraging opponents whose strategy revolves around body punching.
“Marali loves guys who
steam straight ahead and
from what I’ve been able to
assess about Kim, himself
fairly tall at 176cm, is his
proclivity to wage toe-totoe
war” said Colin Nathan. “If he does that he’ll be cut to pieces and I’ve no doubt that a leopard never changes its spots”.
Nevertheless, while Marali’s
incisive skills have already
accounted for the
likes of Pastor Humberto
Maurin, Jean-Marie Codet,
Hevinson Herrera, Miguel
Dario Lombardo and
Gamaliel Diaz, the pencilthin
South African would
be wise not to underrate
the orthodox exponent
he’s about to face. Also,
Marali’s KO% 59.09 is less
emphatic than his challenger,
who’ll enter the
September 12 fray with a
eye-catching 65.22 KO%.
“Kim is an unusually hard hitter for his weight and he penciled in some hugely impressive victories since turning professional in 2004” said Golden Gloves CEO Rodney Berman.
Most notable amongst the Korean’s
scalps were his blistering blow out of
Kobo Gogoladze (TKO 1) in May 2008,
and four subsequent stoppages over
Jung-Suk Mo (KO 2), Gilbert Salinas
(TKO 8), Hyung-Joo Yum (TKO 2) and
Kim Soo Yu (TKO 4).
Indeed, the 22-year-old Kim hasn’t
tasted defeat since he was outpointed
by Makyo Sugita over 10 rounds in July
2006. His unbeaten stretch now numbers
10, with 9 stoppages.
American fight buff George Blake put it into perspective when I called him earlier this week to congratulate him on the birth of his sixth grandchild.
“Kim is a work in progress, and one
should remember that his first three defeats
were registered when he was still a teenager. I’d say Marali has a veritable tiger on his hands!” said Blake.
Man-about-boxing Jeff Ellis agrees.
“Numbers never lie and if I was Marali
I’d be extremely wary of this guy”.
Unlike a lot of other Korean fighters, Kim has journeyed abroad for two of his most important fights, namely those with Gogoladze, which took place in Nevada and Salinas, whom he halted in Laredo, Texas.