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Mancini Kim: Remembering Their Tragic Bout

Latest Ray ManciniFormer World Boxing Association lightweight champion Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini (29-5, 23 KOs) will be shown on ESPN next week (Tuesday, November 13th) to highlight the career of Mancini, which will contain information on his tragic championship bout with Deuk-Koo Kim, fought on November 13, 1982, a fight that ended with Kim dying in the hospital following their grueling bout. Kim, only 23, lapsed into a coma after being knocked out in the 14th round by two consecutive right hands by Mancini. If you ask most people about the bout, they wrongly assume that the 21 year-old Mancini had dominated Kim all fight long, and that perhaps the fight should have been stopped sooner. However, they would wrong.

Kim, in fact, was slightly ahead in the fight going into the 14th round, having dominated the first eight rounds of the fight. Kim landed the majority of the power shots going into the 14th round, and had an easy time landing his straight left hand to the wide open Mancini. The most troubling aspect going into the fight, however, was how could Kim be the number #1 challenger for Mancini when he hadn’t beaten any top tier fighters coming into the bout.

It seemed, at least to me, that Kim was selected in order to give Mancini an opportunity to hold onto his title a little longer because there were numerous opponents out there, for example, Roger Mayweather, Macho Camacho and Aaron Pryor, that would have likely beaten Mancini handily.

Whatever the case, Kim looked to be the better fighter until the 10th round when Mancini began wrestling, trying to tire out Kim. It worked, but it didn’t pretty and reminded me in a lot of ways of Hatton, although Hatton has a lot of weapons to go along with his wrestling. Not Mancini. None of his punches looked very powerful, and he had a difficult time landing much of anything for most of the fight.

Mancini, at age 20, had already held a title – NABF lightweight – a year earlier and had been viciously knocked out by Alexis Arquello in the 14th round. Mancini somehow was given another chance at a title, this time against Arturo Frias, whom he stopped in the 5th round in May 1982. The fact that Mancini had done all of this at such an early age seemed almost incredible considering that most fighters at that age are still cutting their teeth on lower level opponents, or fighting in the amateur ranks. However, it would seem Mancini had been rushed a long a little too quickly and by the time that he faced Kim, he was in my opinion almost a shot fighter. The bout with Arquello had been a vicious affair, as Mancini had been hit with a high number of brutal power shots by Arquello, a fighter with legendary power. This might explain the flat performance Mancini gave against Kim, as he looked like he’d degraded considerably compared to his pre Arquello form.

In the first three rounds of his fight with Kim, Mancini was clocked repeatedly by straight left hands by the southpaw Kim. Forgoing the jab completely, Kim would dive forward and land hard left hands to the head of Mancini, who had virtually no defense for the punches. Instead of adapting to Kim’s attacks, Mancini just stood in his tracks each time and was unable to defend himself at all. Though Mancini has never been one to focus on his defense much, at least he had a high volume offense that would mask his lack of defensive ability. Against Kim, Mancini had neither and didn’t have much of a clue as to how to fight him.

In the fifth round, Mancini leaped off his chair at the start of the round and rushed across the ring and landed a big left hand that hurt Kim. Mancini then landed a flurry of shots, however, most of them missed the target and Kim was able to get his head together again. Mancini later hurt Kim again in the round, this time with a right hand. Once again, Kim was able to escape by clinching his way out of danger. In rounds six-nine, Kim regained control of the bout, and hurt Mancini badly on one occasion in the sixth round. By the 10th, however, Kim began to tire badly, mostly due to the wrestling and pushing that Mancini had began to use. Kim was hurt in the round by a right hand by Mancini, who flurried on his after hurting him. Kim rallied late in the round and appeared to get the better of Mancini for the last minute.

In round 11, Mancini came rushing out of his chair again, attacking Kim with several hard shots. Seconds later, Mancini landed a body shot that caused Kim to take a knee. Oddly, however, the referee didn’t count it as a knockdown, even though it appeared that Kim had gone down from a punch. Again, Kim rallied late in the round as Mancini tired from his early efforts, had stopped punching.

In the 12th and 13th round, both fighters were weary and spent a good portion of the time wrestling and punching at close quarters. Neither were punching particularly hard by now, but it appeared that Kim was still punching harder, albeit less often. Mancini hurt Kim at the start of the 13th, when he blitzed him immediately at the start of the round. Mancini then preceded to land a large number of shots as Kim stumbled around the ring, trying to clinch with him. As in the previous rounds, Mancini punched himself out at the start of the round and spent the better part of the next two minutes of the round eating straight left hands from Kim.

In the 14th round, however, Mancini came charging out once again and landed a right hand, then missing a left, and finishing Kim off with a straight right, dropping him to the canvas on his back. Kim rolled over and got to his feet, then staggered and had to hold onto the rope for support. Seeing this, the referee Richard Greene stopped the bout after 19 seconds of the 14th round. Moments later, Kim collapsed in his corner and was taken out of the ring on a stretcher.

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