The first title fight to be held in Asia in 2019 saw Chinese novice Xiang Li (4-0, 3) [李想] take on Filipino foe Arvin Yurong (12-2, 3) in a battle for the WBO Oriental Youth Lightweight title, in what was the first ever bout for the title.
The bout started cautiously, with Li staying on the outside early on and trying to maintain distance whilst backing off, that was despite looking like the more physically powerful man. Yurong however took Li's negativity as a sign to come forward and he had the first real success, with a combination mid way through the round. Li wasn't going to allow the round to just slip by however and came on strong in the later stages, whilst making his size and power count.
Li began the second round in much the same way that he ended the first, though this time Yurong went with him. Yurong had moments when he was firing back, but seemed to be backed up quite often as the power of Li took an effect on the Filipino. To his credit Yurong repeatedly bit down on his gum shield, looked to cut the space and work on the inside, where Li looked less comfortable than the visitor.
Yurong's determination saw him make round 3 into a firefight, though it seemed like it was a bad idea with Li being the bigger puncher and hurting him in the first minute. The big shots from Li were landing clean to head and body and he was throwing with real spite, though Yurong was showing a real warrior spirit in repeatedly walking forward, trying to get inside and work away with a high volume and body shots. It was a risky game plan from the Filipino, but a smart one given that Li was such a novice and had only gone beyond 3 rounds once, back in his debut.
Sadly for Yurong he paid for his risky tactics in round 4 as Li's power shook him, and sent him down to the canvas with a huge right hand late in the round, a round that Yurong had had real success in. Yurong tried to beat the count but he seemed completely gone and the referee rightfully stopped the action.
With the win Li claims his first title whilst Yurong suffers his second stoppage loss. There's a lot to like about Li, but there is a lot of improvements needed before he steps up a level. Despite the loss we'd love to see more of Yurnong, who looks like the sort of fighter who will always give his all, win or lose, and we can't criticise fighters like that!
News! We try and give you the most interesting news stories from the Asian boxing world!