By Gianluca (Rio) Di Caro
Two time Featherweight Champion of the World Choijiljavyn Tseveenpürev, better known to British fans simply as ‘Choi’, is set to face WBC Asia Champion Bandung Patavikorngym at the Spencer Fearon and Ciaran Baynes Hard Knock Boxing Promotions ‘This is Hard Knocks’ event at York Hall in London this coming Friday.
On Friday last week I caught up with Choi to have a quick chat about the upcoming fight amongst other things, but before I get to that here is a brief catchup on his career to date.
Can you imagine any British fighter traveling abroad to make his debut against a current domestic champ in their own backyard, well Choi did.
Choi is the antithesis of the modern-day protected boxer. He started his career as an away fighter in a ten round bout against then unbeaten Korean Bantamweight Champion Jeung-Tae Kim in Seoul, South Korea on the 22nd November 1996.
Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find any fight reports for his early career, all I know is that Choi won by an eighth round knockout.
He returned to South Korea on the 28th June 1997 for his second bout, this time against OPBF Super Bantamweight Champion Hee-Youn Kwon in Busan. As before it was a scheduled ten rounder and as before it didn’t go the distance, as Choi knocked Kwon out in the ninth round.
Ten months later Choi packed his bags again, this time to travel to Bangkok, Thailand to face, and lose on points to, legendary two time World Champ Veeraphol Sahaprom.
Two more trips to Bangkok followed, the first ends with the first round knockout of Surapol Sithnaruepol on the 2nd October ‘98, and then on the 7th January ‘99 ends with a second round knockout of Ekarat 13Rientower.
In May 1999 Choi got his first title shot against Bulan Bugiarso, the longtime PABA Super Bantamweight champion, in Indonesia. After twelve rounds the decision went the way of the champion, even though Choi dominated the majority of the rounds.
Three months later, on his seventh pro fight, Choi finally got a fight in his home country of Mongolia, against Jiao Hasabayar. Which he won with a fourth round stoppage.
Ten days later he was again on his travels, this time to Shenyang, China, where he knocked out Thongdang Sor Vorapin in the fourth.
The following May see Choi in his first fight in the UK, against David Jeffrey at the Tara Leisure Centre in Shaw, Lancashire, which gave British fans their first opportunity to witness first hand the phenomenal power of the Mongolian Warrior, as he stopped the Brit in the second round.
Choi returned to the Tara Leisure Centre twice more in 2000. The first see him stop Billy Smith in two and on the second he secured a tidy points victory over Chris Williams.
On the 27th April 2001 Choi traveled to Glasgow, where he faced and lost on points to future British, Commonwealth, European and WBU World Champ Willie Limond.
Choi returned to UK action in September ‘01 for two further bouts, against Steve Hanley and two weeks later against Livinson Ruiz, both ended with convincing points victories for Choi.
In December Choi fought Kevin Gerowski for the British Masters title. The fight barely made the half way stage before Choi stopped Gerowski. The official time of the stoppage being 50 seconds of the fifth round.
From March 2002 through to February 2004 Choi fought in the UK six times, and won six times – Chris Emanuele (4 Round – points), John Mackay (5th Round TKO), Peter Allen (4th Round TKO), Jason Nesbitt (8 Round – points), Daniel Thorpe (8 Round – points) and John Mackay (3rd Round – TKO).
In March 2003 Choi packed his bags and headed to Copenhagen in Denmark, where he faced WBU Featherweight Champion Lehlohonolo Ledwaba in a non-championship bout. A little home cooking came into play which lead to Choi being on the wrong side of a majority points decision.
Two months later Choi was back fighting in the UK, facing then unbeaten Kevin O’Hara at the Metrodrome in Barnsley. Another excellent points victory, by 78-75 margin, being the end result.
In July Choi successfully defended his British Masters title for the first time against Harry Ramogoadi, the fight came to a premature end when Ramogoadi retired on the stool after six rounds.
Choi and Harry Ramogoadi had a rematch, again for the British Masters belt, in March 2005. This time the fight didn’t even make the sixth as Choi sensationally stopped Ramogoadi late in the fifth.
Choi’s first major title bout followed in November, when he faced and stopped Germany based Belarus Aliaksei Volchan for the vacant World Boxing Foundation International title at the Tara Leisure Centre in Shaw.
In March 2006 Choi wins his his first World title, after stopping WBF Intercontinental Champion David Kiilu in the third round.
Choi successfully defended the title twice in the UK, first, on the 11th March 2007, by a fourth round knockout of Georgian Nikoloz Berkatsashvili and then in October 2007 by a split decision victory over Sweden based Ugandan Abdu Tebazalwa.
For his final bout in 2007 Choi faced and beat, by a second round knockout, Tanzanian Ajibu Salum in a non-championship six rounder.
In 2008 Choi gave up the WBF belt, following an offer from top British promoter Frank Warren to fight World Boxing Union Champion Derry Matthews for his crown.
Matthews was very much the bookies favourite going into the fight, but then they, or Frank Warren, didn’t expect the diminutive Mongolian to put on such a dominating performance, that see him sending Matthews to the deck no less than five times on his way to a fifth round KO finish.
Unfortunately Choi never got to defend the title, following the death of WBU President and the subsequent ceasing of sanctioning until the WBU ownership was purchased from the President’s estate by Don ‘Moose’ Lewis in 2011.
With no title defenses on the horizon Choi accepted a non-championship bout, stopping Slovakian Lubos Priehradnik with a vicious right to the head on the one minute and five second mark of the third round.
It was almost a year before Choi was back in the ring. No matter though as he started where he finished, with a third round Knockout of West Ham’s Mickey Coveney.
Next up for Choi was a place in the prestigious Prizefighter – Super Featherweight tournament at York Hall in November 2010.
The first round see him face Brighton’s Ben Murphy. What followed was all out war with both protagonists throwing every punch conceivable. The crowd were on the feet throughout to sensational bout. After the three all action rounds the three judges all scored the bout a close 29-28 in Choi’s favour, and set him on route to face old foe Derry Matthews in the semifinal.
What a bout, it was pure synchronized mayhem, Matthews and Choi dug deep into their arsenals of punches for the whole nine minutes. Choi looked certain to be one of the finalists, having worked harder and landed the more meaningful shots each round, but the men that mattered, the judges Richard James Davis, Terry O’Connor and Dave Parris, see it differently scoring it 29-28 in Matthews’ favour, much to the astonishment of the highly vocal crowd.
This brings us more or less up to date, except that is for Choi’s last fight against former IBO World Champion Jackson Asiku, which I had the pleasure of covering – below is my published fight report in it’s entirety.
On Saturday night close to fourteen hundred hardy souls braved the rain and packed the York Hall to capacity, stormy weather wasn’t going to stop them being ringside, at Spencer Fearon’s Hard Knock Boxing promotions ‘Summer Smash’ event, to watch former World Champs Choi Tseveenpurev (WBU/WBF) and Jackson Asiku (IBO) battle it out.
Was it worth it? Well there are fights and then there are FIGHTS, Choi-Asiku definitely comes into the later category. On paper it promised to be one of the best match-ups of the year so far, in reality it proved to be much, much more and the clear front runner for ‘Fight of the Year’ honours by a country mile.
The fight started a little slowly with Asiku controlling the first half of the round by keeping Choi at bay with crisp solid jabs. Around the one minute thirty mark Choi launched his first attack of the fight. After backing the Australian based African to the ropes Choi let rip with a massive overhand right quickly followed by a double handed body assault.
Asiku responded with a big right of his own, but the savvy Mongolian wasn’t deterred one bit and launched a salvo of big right hands, uppercuts, hooks you name it Choi threw it. Asiku’s no mug and dug in his fully stocked arsenal and responded with equally venomous flurries. It was a close round to call but I gave it to Choi, he was plain phenomenal and I felt he had landed the more meaningful shots.
Round two was very much more of the same, these two warriors went to war with a vengeance. Any attempt to describe this round would be futile, it was probably one of the greatest rounds seen this year. Each matched the other punch for punch in an awesome display of the pugilistic art, it had it all, it was pure boxing heaven to watch these two in full flow for three sensational minutes. I see it as a 10-10 round as it was far too close to call one way or the other, they both scored big.
What a round, what an awesome round, these two are amazing, round two was sensational so how could they possibly top that, well they did as round three was even more…I’m lost for a word to describe it adequately, it was seriously class boxing from two World class boxers. At times they stood toe to toe and slugged it out, other times one or the other would launch a venomous attack. Every conceivable punch in the book was thrown time and time again. As before it was impossible to split them, they were equal in every way.
Round four was another beautiful round, early on Asiku switched to the body in an attempt to slow the forceful Mongolian, who would just respond with vicious hooks to the head. As the round progressed Choi turned the tables and started attacking Asiku to the body with a series of piston like hooks. It was beautiful boxing from two World class operators.
Round five see Choi start to dominate proceedings, first by continuing the all out assault to Asiku’s body and then with hooks and straight rights to the head. It wasn’t one way traffic by a long shot, Asiku made some wicked attacks of his own, just Choi was in a groove.
Asiku started fast in the sixth and aggressively took the fight to Choi. The diminutive Mongolian stood his ground, taking a few shots before letting rip with pin point accurate hooks and heavy rights. Asiku was determine to wrestle back control so just kept coming time after time. That is until around the two minute mark when Choi started unwinding the most venomous uppercuts which slowed the African considerably.
Not surprisingly Choi went hard on the attack in the seventh, having rattled Asiku the previous round, and got his just reward about midway through. Choi backed Asiku to the ropes and attacked the body before letting rip with a huge overhand right to the temple which sent the African to the canvas. Asiku quickly got to his feet but as soon as the count was done Choi went straight back on the attack, letting rip with bomb after bomb as Asiku switched to defensive mode to see the round out.
Rounds eight and nine see the pair go at it toe to toe again, slugging it out for virtually every second. As in the earlier rounds these two put on a stunning display of boxing, just at an even higher pace!
The tenth and final round was Choi’s without doubt. He started hard and fast forcing Asiku on to the back foot again. Asiku was responding but his shots just didn’t have the intensity of the previous rounds. Choi on the other hand seemed to find even more power and began landing seriously big shots at will until the final bell.
After ten scintillating rounds Choi was rightly declared victorious, by a 98-93 points margin, but in my view everyone was a winner, Choi, Asiku – who were both truly magnificent – and those of us lucky enough to be ringside for one of the best boxing matches anywhere for a long, long time.
So there you have it, Choi’s fight history, so now let’s hear what the man himself has to say on the Asiku fight, the upcoming showdown with Bandung Patavikorngym and much, much more.
Rio – Thanks for talking with me today. My first question focuses on the magnificent battle with Jackson Asiku back in June. What are your thoughts on that great victory?
Choi – Before the fight everyone was expecting Jackson to win.
He was very confident, he was very tough. He’s a very dangerous guy, if I gave him chance he’ll try it. He’s a warrior, I’d fight him again, I like tough guys. I like to fight Warriors, I like them to come and fight.
That fight was a very, very hard fight you know. Jackson is very tricky, talented fighter. Me and him it was like a war you know, from first round to the last round it was just like war.
Everyone was very excited in the hall, it was just mad, people was shouting Choi, Choi, Choi and Jackson, Jackson, Jackson. It was small hall but big crowd.
Rio – You’re headlining Hard Knocks Boxing’s first event to be covered by Premier Sports against Bandung Patavikorngym. Can you tell me your thoughts on this?
Choi – Hard Knocks Boxing Promotions is rising now, getting TV is a big achievement.
This kid I will be fighting is a very good, very talented, tough fighter.
He’s very tough boy from Thailand, one of the real fighters, not a little cry baby you know. He’s won nineteen fights, ten knockouts. It’s a good achievement.
It’ll be a hard fight.
I wish that after this fight, after I knock this kid out, I want title. I’ll fight anyone, Americans, Mexicans anyone. I want a big title, believe me I’ll show them my power and strength.
Rio – You touched on my next question already, are you looking to get back into contesting for Championships again?
Choi – I had two World titles, I want a third. I gave back my first belt to fight for the WBU title, I won but never got another fight to defend it.
Ricky Hatton defended his WBU title many times, I defended mine none.
Rio – Is there any particular title you are looking at, or any Champion you want to challenge for their title
Choi – Now the WBU is back I want to defend my title or fight for another one. I’ll fight for any sanctioning body but I want a big belt.
I’ve waited for this chance for ten years, Hard Knocks Boxing Promotions promise me that I will fight for a big title for the British fans. I’m ready, I’ll fight any of the Americans, Mexicans, Asians that hold the belts, I’ll fight Gamboa (WBA champ Yuriokis Gamboa).
Rio – You had some time away from the sport between winning the World titles and Prizefighter, why was that?
Choi – In two years a lot has happened, I hurt my leg and then retired, but many people wanted me to fight again.
Rio – I understand that you do a lot of charity work when you’re not preparing for a fight, can you tell us a little about this?
Choi – When I’m not boxing I work for home for homeless children. There are hundreds and hundreds of kids living rough in the towns and mountains in Mongolia, they don’t have much clothes and no food.
They’re living like rats, you know, eating anything they find. I want to give them all a home that is warm, really warm
I work for one charity, I go round and offer help. When I fight I give as much as I can and always help to look after them.
On 10th October this invitation for Charity event at the House of Lords “Let’s build a home for Mongolian children”.
Rio – Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me today and I wish you all the best for both the 7th October and also for the charity event.
Choi – Thank you.
Hard Knocks Boxing Promotions ‘This Is Hard Knocks’ event, which will be headlined by Choi Tseveenpürev, takes place at York Hall, Bethnal Green, on Friday 7th October 2011 and broadcast live on Premier Sports (Sky channel 433).
Tickets for ‘This Is Hard Knocks’ – priced £35 (Unreserved) and £60 (Ringside), are available now on-line at www.tkoboxoffice.com or in person at The TRAD TKO Boxing Gym, Gillian House, Stephenson Street, Canning Town, London E16 4SA. For further information please call 07960 850645.