3. Yuh Myung-Woo
Years Active: 1982-1993
Professional Record: 38-1, 14 KOs
Titles: WBA Light Flyweight champion 1985-1991; 1992-1993
Fans nicknamed Yuh Myung Woo “Sonagi”–which translates to rainfall–because he pelted his opponents with a whirlwind style combination of punches until they were overwhelmed. Yuh, along with Chang Jung-Koo, are widely considered as the two best boxers South Korea has ever produced.
Yuh made a division record of 18 total title defenses over two reigns of the WBA Light Flyweight crown, including 17 successful title defenses during his first reign. Yuh’s record surpassed the previous record of 15 successful title defenses in a continuous reign set by former WBC light flyweight champion and the aforementioned fellow countryman, Chang.
On December 8, 1985, Yuh won the WBA light flyweight title by scoring a split decision over champion Joey Olivo. On April 29, 1990, Yuh faced the toughest fighter of his career in his 15th title defense. Yuh defeated former WBA minimumweight champion Leo Gamez by split decision over 12 rounds.
Gamez was undefeated at that point, with a record of 20-0. Yuh and Gamez faced each other in a rematch, held on November 11, 1990, due to the closeness of their first fight.
This time, Yuh scored a unanimous decision win. It is worth noting that Gamez would go on to become one of 9 men in boxing history to have held world titles in four different weight classes. Gamez would later capture the WBA light flyweight, WBA flyweight and WBA super flyweight titles.
Yuh’s record 17th title defense came against Kajkong Danphuthai on April 28, 1991, scoring a 10th round knockout over his opponent. On December 12, 1991, Yuh lost his title former WBC strawweight champion Hiroki Ioka.
The Japanese challenger Ioka scored a 12 round split decision, handing Yuh his first loss as a professional boxer. It would also turn out to be the only defeat of his amazing career.
On November 18, 1992, Yuh returned to Japan to the same arena where he had lost his title, to reclaim it with a 12 round majority decision over Hiroki Ioka.
Yuh would made one more appearance in the ring before retiring as the most storied 108-pound fighter ever at the tender young age of 29 years old. On July 25, 1993, Yuh defeated Yuichi Hosono over a 12 round unanimous decision to retain his title, the only title defense of his second reign.
The man known by the moniker, Sonagi, amassed a record of 20-1 (10 KOs) in world title fights and finished with a impressive record of 8-1 against former, current and future world titlist. They included Chung Bi-Won, Joey Olivo, Jose DeJesus (twice), Rodolfo Blanco, Leo Gamez (twice) and Hiro Ioka.
It was reported that just prior to their historic first title unification of the IBF and WBC light flyweight titles on March 13, 1993, Michael Carbajal and Humberto Gonzalez both agreed that their WBA counterpart Yuh posed a greater threat to them than they did to each other (won by Carbajal via 7th round knockout).
Yuh was ranked the ninth best pound-for-pound boxer in the world by The Ring in 1990. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in June 2013.
Photo by The Ring Magazine/Getty Images