Joey Gamache vs. Chil-Sung Chun

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1992-06-13 : Joey Gamache 135 lbs beat Chil-Sung Jun 135 lbs by TKO in round 9 of 12

Description courtesy of Dubblechin!

In October 1991, future Hall-of-Famer Pernell Whitaker made the last defense of his undisputed lightweight title with a unanimous decision over Jorge Paez. In early 1992, he announced he was leaving the lightweight division to challenge Rafael Pineda for the IBF junior welterweight crown.

With the WBC, WBA and IBF belts now up for grabs, Whitaker’s top two WBA contenders signed to fight for the vacant crown.

The WBA’s number-one contender was South Korea’s Chil-Sung Chun (18-1 with 11 knockouts). Chun wasn’t like many of the unknown South Korean challengers who seemed to mysteriously appear at the top of WBA ratings back in the late 80s and early 90s. Chun was a known commodity. He won the bronze medal in the 1984 Olympic Games – losing to eventual Gold Medalist Pernell Whitaker.

His career also took off fast. Chun knocked off the Phillipine champ in his fourth pro fight and beat veteran Darryl Tyson in only his seventh pro bout (and Tyson was coming off an IBF title match with Jimmy Paul). But he only fought once in 1990 and in 1991 – while Whitaker was busy unifying the titles and defending against more well-known names – and his number-one ranking was questioned.

Chun had hoped to avenge his amateur loss to Whitaker, but instead he’d have to settle for the number-two challenger, Joey Gamache.

Gamache (28-0 with 17 knockouts), who was born in Lewiston, Maine (site of Ali-Liston II), was sort of a Vinny Pazienza “knock-off.” He wore flashy trunks and had decent boxing skills, but he fought nearly all of his professional fights in his home state of Maine. (Not exactly a hot-bed for pro boxing.)

He also had a knack for fighting for vacant belts.

In 1991, Gamache won the vacant WBA Super Featherweight title against unknown Jerry N’Gobeni when longtime champ Brian Mitchell was stripped for agreeing to a second unification match against IBF champ Tony Lopez. (The first Lopez-Mitchell unification bout had ended in a draw.)

But instead of defending that belt, Gamache moved up to lightweight when Whitaker vacated, and immediately found himself ranked number-two by the WBA at 135 so he could compete for that belt.

Of course, Gamache and Chun squared off in Maine, and the Cumberland County Civic Center was sold out. Even though Gamache had already won one world title, both he and Chun had something to prove.

Luckily ABC’s Wide World of Sports cameras were there, because they captured a helluva fight – thanks to an early headbutt that ratcheted up the drama and turned the respectful fight into a total brawl featuring lots of fouls, punches after the bell, intentional butts and some excellent punching, too.