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.