SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korean Yuh Myung-woo, who defended his WBA light-flyweight title a record 17 consecutive times, will be inducted into boxing's Hall of Fame alongside Arturo 'Thunder' Gatti and Virgil Hill next year.
"I think this honor will be a great leap forward not only for myself but also for boxing in Korea," the 48-year-old told Reuters by telephone on Tuesday.
"Boxing has lost fans to baseball, soccer, volleyball etc and the popularity of boxing has been waning, so the number of professional boxers has also been on the decline.
"So I think this honor will be an opportunity for all boxers to unite and work harmoniously for the future of boxing in Korea."
Yuh won the world light-flyweight (49 kilos/108 pounds) title for the first time in 1985 by beating American Joey Olivo in Daegu, South Korea. He made 17 defenses on home turf before fighting Japan's Hiroki Ioka in Osaka in December 1991.
Ioka took the title on a split decision, handing Yuh his one and only defeat as a professional.
The South Korean would wait almost a year for his revenge, returning to the ring the following November against the same opponent at the same venue, but this time defeating Ioka to reclaim his title.
Looking back over his career, Yuh recalled two magical moments.
"When I won the first world championship title, and when I reclaimed the title from Hiroki Ioka of Japan," he said.
"I started boxing when I was in the first grade in middle school with the aim of becoming world champion, so it was a dream-come-true moment."
Yuh made one more title defense, dominating Japan's Yuichi Hosono for 12 rounds in July 1993, before hanging up his gloves that same year with a record of 38-1.
He will become the second South Korean boxer inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame and Museum after Chang Jung-koo, who also fought in the light-flyweight division, was inducted in 2010.
(Reporting by Narae Kim in Seoul, Writing by Peter Rutherford in Singapore; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)