Ji Hoon ‘The Volcano’ Kim 24-8 (18 KOs) meets Mauricio Herrera 18-3 (7 KOs) on Thursday in what promises to be an exciting special edition of ESPN’S Friday Night Fights. Both men are favourites with the FNF audience and have each taken part in a number of minor classics on the ESPN show. Now they are about to meet in the main event from The Omega Products International, Corona, California, in what could well be a classic confrontation.
Kim especially has become something of a cult figure with boxing fans due to his exciting appearances on ESPN. The South Korean turned professional at the age of seventeen with no amateur experience and was 8-5 after his first thirteen fights. However, Kim then won his next thirteen fights and this winning streak coincided with his move to America and breakthrough wins on ESPN, over Koba Gogoladze, Tyrone Harris and Ammeth Diaz. ’The Volcano’s meteoric rise from journeyman to contender propelled Kim into a IBF World Lightweight championship fight with Miguel Vasquez, where, although he was out-boxed and largely outclassed by the superiorly schooled Vasquez, the South Korean gave his usual full-hearted display.
It is somehow fitting that when Kim relocated to America, to further his boxing career, he ended up choosing Philadelphia as his new domain. Kim is a throwback to the legendary Philadelphia warriors of the past who may have lacked finesse, but had heart in abundance, and provided heart-stopping action in every fight they participated in, win, lose or draw. Indeed Kim is reminiscent of the tough TV fighters of the 50s, who didn’t mind taking two or three punches to land one, and were not afraid to face dangerous opposition in every fight. What Kim lacks in boxing skills he makes up for in heart and the ability to fight at a furious pace, often averaging over 100 punches thrown per round. In his 2012 point’s victory over the previously unbeaten Allisher Rahimov, ’The Volcano’ threw 1225 punches over the ten rounds, including 792 power punches. In addition to being able to throw punches seemingly non-stop all night long, Kim also has a dangerous punch power, with which he is able to turn fights around when all has seemed lost. Little wonder then that the South Korean has become such a crowd favorite.
Nevertheless, if Kim is a throwback to the TV fighters of the past, then so is his opponent on Thursday, Mauricio Herrera. Mexican-American Herrera has often averaged over 100 punches himself per round in fights and although he lacks Kim’s big punch, he has better all round boxing skills. Like ’The Volcano,’ Herrera has built up his popularity on ESPN by taking part in a series of exciting fights and picking up some good wins, including a victory over Ruslan Provodnikov, who recently took Timothy Bradley to the brink of defeat. Herrera also took part in one of 2012’s fight of the year candidates, against Mike Alvarado, in a fight that saw both men going toe to toe for most of the ten rounds, and Herrera throwing over 100 punches per round, despite eventually losing on points.
This fight is a crucial one for both men, with each man coming off defeats. Herrera has lost his last two contests, the Alvarado defeat being followed late last year by a point’s defeat to Karim Mayfield. Ji Hoon Kim meanwhile, is coming off a one-sided points defeat to Raymundo Beltran late last year, which derailed plans for him to have a second shot at one of the World Lightweight Titles. Since the loss to Beltran, Kim has decided to move up in weight to the Light-Welterweight division, so this fight in many ways represents an attempt at a fresh start for the South Korean, after spending the last few years struggling to make the Lightweight limit.
Although ‘The Volcano’ should benefit from the extra poundage on his five feet-nine inch frame, the 140-pound class is one of the toughest and most competitive in boxing at the moment,. Kim needs a win against Herrera to show that he is a viable contender at his new weight. Herrera, although not a puncher like Kim, may well benefit from being the more natural Light-Welterweight in this fight. Also Herrera’s edge in boxing skills may be a deciding factor. While Herrera does not have the best defense in the world, Kim has almost no defense at all, except his offence.
Kim has already won many fights, which his technical flaws would seem to have made impossible, and he will always have a puncher’s chance with his power and heart. This is very much a crossroads fight for both boxers, with the winner gaining the chance to re-establish himself as a contender, while the loser will find himself a little further down the rankings and looking at the prospect of being relegated to the role of an opponent. In the fickle world of boxing, both men’s careers are poised to go up or down according to the result of this fight.
With this match pitting two fighters against each other who are known to average about 100 punches each per round, it is not hard to imagine that this contest could well turn out to be a minor classic and perhaps yet another candidate for fight of the year, in what is turning out to be a good spring for exciting fights.
In such an evenly matched contest the difference could be either the extra power of Kim or the extra boxing skills of Herrera, but another factor may be which fighter is the fresher after both men’s history of tough fights throughout their careers.
In the co-feature former WBA Lightweight World Champion Miguel ’Aguacerito’ Acosta 29-6-2 (23 KOs) will be trying to get his career back on track against Miguel ’Silky Smooth’ Gonzalez 20-3 (15 KOs) in what looks like another interesting fight, although all the fireworks should come from the main event.
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