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All Chi Has to Do Is Break Jinx

Boxing: Korean fighters historically have fared poorly in L.A., but featherweight vows to end the slide.

July 27, 2001|STEVE SPRINGER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Roy Jones quakes every time he sets foot in Los Angeles, fearful The Big One is about to rumble through the city.

Have no fear, Roy, it could be worse. You could be Injin Chi.

While Jones, the undisputed light-heavyweight champion, is worried about a major earthquake, a disaster that might not hit L.A. for decades or longer, Chi, a Korean featherweight, has to be concerned with The Jinx, a disaster that befalls nearly every Korean fighter who sets foot in this city.

Of the 25 Koreans who have fought in L.A., 24 have lost, according to Paul Lee of the Korean Times. Although old records are spotty, Dean Lohuis of the California State Athletic Commission confirmed The Jinx exists.

"Los Angeles is known as the Korean boxers' burial ground," Lee said.

The only fighter to break The Jinx was Chong-Pal Park, who knocked out Vinny Curto in the 15th round of their International Boxing Federation super-middleweight title fight on March 10, 1986 at the Sports Arena.

Chi, who is on the undercard of Saturday's Staples Center show, headlined by Jones' match against Julio Gonzalez, is determined to end the series of losses.

All Chi (24-1, 14 knockouts) has to do is to beat Erik Morales, who is 40-0 with 31 knockouts, will be defending his World Boxing Council featherweight championship and can boast of having defeated Marco Antonio Barrera in a memorable war last year.

"I don't care," Chi said of The Jinx through an interpreter. "I don't pay attention to that. I have the opportunity to fight now and that's all I care about. I will let my fists do the talking."

Chi also brushes off mention of Morales' superior skills.

"He's a great fighter," Chi said, "but he's human too. When you get in the ring, who knows what the outcome will be?"

When people bring up The Jinx to Chi, 28, he can counter with The Streak. Chi lost his first professional fight on a four-round decision to Taesun Park in Seoul in 1991. But he hasn't lost since, his 24-fight winning streak catapulting him to the No. 1 spot in the WBC rankings.

Chi has knocked out five of his last six opponents.

Further boosting Chi's confidence was his meeting a few weeks ago with a fellow countryman who has demonstrated that a Korean athlete can have success in Los Angeles, a pitcher named Chan Ho Park.

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