By Adam Abramowitz
Ji-Hoon “Volcano” Kim scored a 10-round unanimous decision over previously unbeaten Alisher “Ali” Rahimov at the Ameristar Casino in Saint Charles, Missouri. Kim, the former lightweight title challenger, featured a blistering work rate in defeating Rahimov, who entered the fight as the #2-ranked lightweight contender by the WBO. The ESPN2-televised fight was a physical bout, with sustained action, numerous clashes of heads and low blows.
Kim started the fight as the aggressor, throwing combination punches, while Rahimov was very deliberate with his punches. The first round featured an accidental clash of heads which only momentarily slowed Kim down. According to CompuBox, Kim, from South Korea, threw 108 punches in the opening frame, compared with only 32 punches for Rahimov, the former Olympian from Uzbekistan, now based in Russia.
A number of the early rounds featured the non-stop work rate of Kim versus the solid right hand counters from Rahimov. Throughout the majority of the first half of the bout, Kim pressed the action on the inside, scoring notably with left hooks, looping right hands, right uppercuts and right hooks to the body.
Kim landed a low blow in the third round, which caused a break in the action. After referee Jay Nady called “time-in,” Kim continued with his relentless barrage of punches. Rahimov had success in the fourth round applying pressure, where he landed a number of solid right hands.
Kim changes his strategy in the fifth by using his height and his jab to control action from the outside. With the jab, he set up three and four-punch combinations. Rahimov’s left eye started to swell a little bit in the fifth, but this would not be a serious issue as the fight progressed.
In the sixth round, both fighters took turns having success driving the other to the ropes. Rahimov started to move his hands more in the round and scored with his left hook in combinations. Kim landed with right uppercuts and straight right hands. The round also featured another violent clash of heads.
Rahimov came out as the aggressor in the seventh round with straight right hands and left hooks. Kim still threw a lot of punches, but they were often “arm-punch” combinations. The eighth featured excellent work from both fighters as Rahimov landed several punishing combinations early in the round. Kim staged a late-round comeback after a low blow with a number of good right hands.
After the sizzling eighth round, Rahimov took the first two minutes of round nine off. Kim pressed forward with combinations and solid right-hand leads.
Both fighters came out firing in the final round. Rahimov started the round by unloading with right hand-left hook combinations. Kim returned fire with straight right hands and short uppercuts. They traded throughout the round in the center of the ring until the final bell sounded. The tenth round was a microcosm of the entire fight, where Kim threw more punches, but Rahimov had the more impressive landed shots.
According to CompuBox, Kim essentially doubled Rahimov’s work rate, throwing 1,225 punches to Rahimov’s 624 blows. Rahimov had the superior connect percentage – 32% to 24%.
Scores were 96-94, 98-92 and 97-93, all in favor of the younger (25) and more energetic Kim, who moves to 24-7 (18 KOs) with the win. Rahimov (34) suffered the first loss of his career; his record is now 23-1 (12 KOs).
Thompson cruised past Godfrey in a lackluster affair.
In the evening’s co-feature, undefeated heavyweight Vince Thompson, from Federal Way, Washington, easily defeated Joell Godfrey, from Knoxville Tennessee, in an eight-round fight. Unlike the main event, this fight featured a paucity of action and very little drama.
Thompson, a former sparring partner of heavyweight titlist Alexander Povetkin, won practically every round with his superior work rate and his willingness to engage. Godfrey remained defensive-minded throughout the fight, occasionally throwing a single counter right hand or a right uppercut.
Thompson, a southpaw, never seriously hurt Godfrey, but he controlled the action with his right hand, specifically his jab and hook. As the fight progressed, he also featured a looping left hand.
Many of the rounds had significant periods of posing and feinting. At various points, Godfrey seemed more interested in covering up than in throwing enough punches to win rounds.
In the closing round, Godfrey finally initiated some offense, flinging power shots, specifically lead right hands and right uppercuts. He did land with some of these shots, but the offensive display was a case of too little too late.
The scores were 80-72, 80-72 and 78-74. With the win, Thompson (29) moves to 11-0 (2 KOs); Godfrey (31) falls to 14-7-1 (6 KOs).