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Kim a Danger to Marali's 'Untouchable' Status
(by int.iol.co.za)

08/17/2009 - South Korea's Ji Hoon Kim (18-5-1, 15 knockouts) spells the biggest danger to date to the status and future of South Africa's IBO world junior lightweight champion Zolani "Untouchable" Marali (20-2, 13 knockouts).

The eagerly-awaited showdown between the 32-year-old Marali, who is 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".

Also featured on the night are a vacant IBO Youth world super middleweight bout between reigning IBO Youth light heavyweight king Tommy "Tommy Gun" Oosthuizen (9-0) and Clever Alves (5-1) of Brazil, a WBO Africa title contest between the current champion Isaac "Golden Boy" Chilembe (12-1) and Douglas Otieno (19-2-1) of Kenya, and a vacant IBO Africa lightweight title fight between Grant "The Fireball" Fourie (10-0-1) and Jason "The Blonde Bomber" Bedeman (8-0-2), two of South Africa's most exciting prospects.

Yet it is the banner attraction that matches Marali and Kim that should attract most international interest, especially in view of Marali's recent No 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 is significant that Ji Hoon Kim's reputation is such that the whole of Korea will obtain live visuals of the fight, courtesy of SuperSport.

Marali's triumphs have been fashioned around his razor-sharp skills, a southpaw jab of unerring precision and the fact that he's taller than most welterweights.

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-to-toe 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."

Marali's skills have already accounted for the likes of Pastor Humberto Maurin, Jean-Marie Codet, Hevinson Herrera, Miguel Dario Lombardo and Gamaliel Diaz, but the pencil-thin South African would be wise not to underrate the orthodox exponent of the fight game he's about to face. Also, Marali's knockout percentage 59.09 is less emphatic than his challenger, who'll enter the September 13 fray with an eye-catching 65.22 KO percent.

"Kim is a particularly hard hitter for his weight, and he's had some impressive victories since turning professional in 2004," said Berman.

Most notable among the Korean's wins 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 in-Soo Yu (TKO 4). Kim has not lost since he was outpointed by Makyo Sugita over 10 rounds in July 2006. His unbeaten stretch now numbers 10, with nine stoppages.

Man-about-boxing Jeff Ellis agrees: "Numbers never lie and if I was Marali I'd be extremely wary of this guy."

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