Kim no match for Zappavigna

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Kim no match for Zappavigna

Kim Ji-hoon suffered a disappointing technical knockout to Leonardo Zappavigna in the IBF lightweight title bout at Olympic Park Sports Center in Homebush, Australia yesterday.

The 23-year-old Goyang, Gyeonggi native with a record of 21-7 and 18 KO’s had been looking to earn another IBF lightweight title with a win over Zappavigna (25-0, 17 KO’s) but proved to be no match for the Aussie.

Kim was coming off a unanimous decision loss after going the full 12 rounds with Miguel Vazquez for the then-vacant lightweight title at the Laredo Energy Arena in Laredo, Texas on Aug. 14.

The August loss was Kim’s first since his July 16, 2007 defeat to Makyo Sugita in Nagoya, Japan.

A victory against 10th ranked Zappavigna would have given Kim a rematch with current IBF lightweight champion Vazquez in March.

Considering Kim had a size advantage and was ranked higher, the loss is a tough setback for the Korean.

Listed at 177-centimeters (5 feet, 9 1/2 inches), boasting a nine-centimeter size advantage and over 10 more centimeters in reach, Kim failed to make good use of his size and eagerly traded punches with the in-fighting Zappavigna out of the gate. The fight soon turned into a slugfest.

In the process of stepping back, Kim failed to protect himself and was left exposed to a thudding right hook to the temple. Visibly shaken from the first knockdown, Kim failed to recover and was susceptible to several more punishing blows from Zappavigna, leading to another knockdown.

Kim became the lone Korean male world champion on Sept. 12, 2009 when he defeated Zolani Marali via a technical knockout in the ninth round for the IBF super featherweight title at Emperors Palace in Kempton Park, South Africa. Having earned a reputation as a hard-nosed fighter with a powerful right hand, Kim went on to earn placements in the ESPN Friday Night Fights main event against Tyrone Harris on Feb. 12, which he won by TKO in the fifth round.

He also defeated Ameth Diaz in the first round by TKO.

However, Kim’s inability to effectively defend himself against opponents’ punches and his lack of creativity came to the surface again. Much like in the title bout against Vazquez, Kim failed to block, duck or weave properly, and depended heavily on his right hand.


By Jason Kim [jason@joongang.co.kr]

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