Lee Groves

10: Best final acts

9. July 25, 1993, Hyundai Hotel, Gyeongju City, South Korea – Myung Woo Yuh W 12 Yuichi Hosono

Many observers thought Yuh didn’t deserve the split decision over Joey Olivo that allowed him to become WBA junior flyweight champion on Dec. 8, 1985. But over the next six years Yuh more than proved himself worthy of championship distinction as he established a new divisional record of 17 defenses against a fairly strong group of contenders.

Yuh used his volume-punching but defensively responsible style to beat Jose DeJesus (twice), Mario DeMarco (twice), Rodolfo Blanco and future four-division champion Leo Gamez (twice). It was considered a major upset when lanky former 105-pound titlist Hiroki Ioka dethroned Yuh by split decision on December 17, 1991 in the South Korean’s only defense outside his homeland. In the rematch 11months later – again in Tokyo – Yuh emphatically avenged the loss by scoring a majority decision that should have been unanimous.

The 29-year-old Yuh made the first defense of his second reign against Hosono, a 23-year-old ranked seventh by the WBA that had a 16-2-1 (10) record. His blemishes occurred only when he stepped up in class as WBA minimumweight champ Hi Yong Choi stopped him in 10 and perennial contender Rocky Lin decisioned him over 10. The draw came against undefeated Filipino hotshot Ala Villamor, a showing that allowed him to get the shot at Choi.

As for the fight, Yuh depended on the same formula that garnered him so much success – forcing a fast pace, being the first to begin most exchanges and piling up points with his vast array of combinations. But while the upper half of his body retained most of the traits that marked his prime his legs appeared wooden and his defense more sieve-like. His face was reddened in the second, his nose bloodied in the fifth and his mouth showed crimson in the sixth. But the second half drive remained and while Hosono kept coming at him Yuh turned on the jets and out-shined him.

By the eighth the champ looked like the Yuh of old as he danced on his toes and flashed impressive multi-punch bursts. He even threw in a mini-bolo during one volley in the closing seconds of the ninth and unloaded 11 consecutive hooks in the 10th. The well-oiled perpetual motion machine that was Yuh cruised to a 120-111, 119-110, 118-110 decision and he once again was vaulted into the mix in terms of fights with Humberto “Chiquita” Gonzalez and WBC/IBF champ Michael Carbajal, the latter of whom defended his belts just eight days earlier against Kwang Sun Kim.

Instead, Yuh announced his retirement and the vacancy was filled less than three months later when Gamez stopped Shiro Yahiro in nine. The fact that Yuh never fought the division’s biggest superstars may be the reason why it took two decades for Hall of Fame voters to finally recognize his achievements, but one can’t argue that Yuh finished his career on the highest of notes.

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