Last night fight fans in Durango, Mexico, had the chance to see two Asian fighters face off against former Mexican world champions in bouts that were seen, on paper as two total mismatches.
The first of those bouts saw Filipino Crison Omayao (20-13-3, 7) lose with a 5th round TKO to former unified Minimumweight champion Francisco Rodriguez Jr (20-4-1, 13). The former champion dropped "D'Cowboy" several times en route to the stoppage with the referee waving off the bout and saving the visitor from further punishment.
The second bout saw unheralded Japanese fighter Shohei Kawashima (14-1-2, 3) [川島 翔平] take on former unified Super Flyweight champion Cristian Mijares (55-8-2, 26), in a bout for the WBC Silver Featherweight title. Kawashima really applied himself brilliantly and was really unfortunate to come up short on the scorecards, losing 113-115 on all 3 cards.
The general view seemed to be that had the bout not been in Mexico then Kawashima would have claimed the decision and would have claimed one of the upsests of the year, with the Japanese youngster being priced as wide as 9/1 going into the bout. Hopefully the performance will open doors for the technically well schooled Japanese fighter, despite the loss.
We apologise for the poor quality of the video below.
Former WBC Minimumweight champion Xiong Zhao Zhong (26-6-1, 14) may have been upset back in February 2014, when he was battered by little known Mexican Oswaldo Novoa, but the Chinese fighter has bounced well and today he claimed one of his most notable victories to date.
The diminutive Chinese fighter was towered over by Filipino foe Crison Omayao (17-10-3, 5) though never really looked in any problems at all as he used his experience and know how to pick apart Omayao over 10 rounds to claim the OPBF Minimumweight title, and defend the WBC International title.
The Filipino did travel with good intent, and it was shown in the early stages, though it didn't take long for Zhong to figure him out and time him with some solid right hands that draw an excited furor from the local fans.
The Chinese fighter, who landed copious clean right hands, always seemed in control but failed to ever hurt Omayao who took all the shots very well. Sadly for Omayao however he seemed to lack his own bite and whatever shots he landed caused no real issue either, and were much less regular than Zhong's.
The control of Zhong's was shown on the scorecards, which read 99-91, 98-92 and 97-93, though the fact that Zhong failed to rattle Omayao is notable, especially when one considers that he was blown out in 115 seconds just 14 months ago, by Kosei Tanaka. Sadly for Zhong however he now looks like to have a target on his back for fighters like Genki Hanai, who may well view him as an easy stepping stone to bigger and better things.
Curiously, for an OPBF title bout, this contest was only for 10 rounds, an issue that certainly raised some eyebrows, though is unlikely to cause any great fuss.
Next Friday in China fans get a chance to see an intriguing card featuring a number of title bouts. The headline bout from those is an OPBF and WBC International Minimumweight title bout between former former WBC Minimumweight world champion Xiong Zhao Zhong (25-6-1, 14) and Filipino fighter Crison Omayao (17-9-3, 5).
Today we learned that that main event will be aired on Chinese channel CCTV5, along with one other bout, though we're unsure which bout will act as the televised support.
For fans wanting to watch the broadcast it will begin at 19:30 local time and end 2 hours later.
The bout will see Zhong attempting to make the first defense of his WBC International title whilst Omayao will be coming in to this bout seeking his biggest win to date. Unfortunately for Omayao he is 0-7 on the road, including losses to Naoya Inoue, Wanheng Menayothin, Yodmongkol Vor Saengthep and Kosei Tanaka. This is an easier bout than those, though still comes against a former world champion. For Zhong this bout could be the gateway to another world title bout somewhere down the line.
In October 2014 fans had a genuine treat as Kosei Tanaka challenged Ryuji Hara for the OPBF Minimumweight title. The bout was as good as it got with technique, heart, guts, excitement, competitive action and brilliant back and forth all as an incredibly high pace that made the bout look like it was being fought in double speed. Since then however the OPBF title at 105lbs has seemingly been forgotten about whilst Tanaka himself has moved into world level, claiming the WBO title with a decision victory against Julian Yedras and Hara has began to rebuild his career.
Now we have been informed that a new champion will be crowned in September as former WBC champion Xiong Chao Zhong* (25-6-1, 14) battles Filipino work horse Crison Omayao (17-9-3, 5) in Ningbo on September 18th.
Zhong is best known for his short lived reign as a world champion which saw him become the first Chinese man to hold a world title. The diminutive and bull like fighter from Kunming in 2012 when he beat Javier Martinez Resendiz and made 2 defenses of the belt before being shocked by little known Mexico Oswaldo Novoa in 2014. Since the loss of his title Zhong has gone 3-1, with his sole loss being a decision to WBA champion Hekkie Budler, as he's began to rebuild his career,
Whilst Zhong may not be an elite level Minimumweight he has share the ring with some notable fighters such as Daisuke Naito, Takuya Kogawa, Shin Ono and Denver Cuello, with Cuello being his most impressive win. He's a solid fringe level fighter and a man looking to become China's first 2-time world champion.
Sadly for Omayao he is better known for who has beaten him than who he has beaten and what he's actually achieved. Among those who have beaten the young Filipino are a debuting Naouya Inoue, a then 2-0 Kosei Tanaka, a then 18-0 Wanheng Menayotin, a then 26-2 Yodmongkol Vor Saenghtep and a 2-0 Genki Hanai, That's 3 current world champions, a former WBA interim champion and a man who is said to be eyeing up a Japanese title fight.
Whilst he is well known for losses the Filipino 22 year old has been regarded highly by the OPBF, who listed him at #2 in their most recent rankings, just a place behind Zhong. It's a lofty ranking, and a very debatable one, but it does open his door for this bout.
The contest will be one of a number of title fights on the show, though it certainly looks to be the most notable with the winner a likely target for some of the emerging fighters in the division, such as Takumi Sakae. On paper it should be an easy win for Zhong but Omayao has the gutsy and ability to really make him work for it.
*It appears that the spelling of Zhong's name has changed slightly from "Xiong Zhao Zhong", but it's definitely the same fighter.
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