Bob Arum's "Top Rank Inc." kicked off the boxing day by returning to the gambling hotspot of Macau for the highly promoted "Fists of Gold 2". The show, the sequel to Zou Shiming's debut earlier this year looked, at least on paper, to be one of the most notable shows of the year.
The action started with a victory for youngster Dave Penalosa (7-0, 5) who defeated Thai oppnent Ngaotawan Sithsaithong (10-11-1, 5) via 3rd round KO. Penalosa, the son of Dodie Boy Penalosa and newphew of Gerry Penalosa looks to be one of the hottest prospects in the Philippines and when you see just how many talented fighters are coming through the ranks over there that really is a big deal.
Things went from good to better for the fans at "Fists of Gold 2" as fans were treat to an enthralling bout between Japan's Konosuke Tomiyama (23-6-1, 8), a former world title challenger, and Filipino Genesis Servania (22-0, 8). Tomiyama was dropped within 40 seconds before picking himself up and dropping Servania himself twice inside the opening round. Despite being cut Servania dropped Tomiyama again in round 3 as the fighters gave us nothing but drama.
Late in round 5 it appeared that Tomiyama had busted his hand and after being dominated in round 6 it appeared the end was on the card. Surprisingly the Japanese fighter had an excellent bounce back in round 7 and held his own in round 8. Unfortunately the bout came to a premature end in round 9 after a clash of head lead to a terrible cut under Servania's left eye. Despite the cut coming from a clash of heads Tomiyama seemed to celebrate as if he had won by TKO. Things got worse for Tomiyama as the scorecards were read out with Servania taking a split technical decision and retaining his WBO Asia Pacific Super Bantamweight title,
The third bout on the show saw Hong Kong's hugely popular Rex Tso (10-0, 6) in action taking on Thailand's Rusalee Samor (20-5-2, 9). The fight was a thoroughly competitive one with Samor refusing to be intimidated by Tso's reputation and it lead to a lot of great action sequences though unfortunately for Samor his lack of power and size allowed Tso to tag him at a distance and tie him up up-close. Despite being under-sized Samor showed off serious physical strength and genuine toughness as he pushed Tso around and walked through "The Wonder Kid's" shots. One thing is for sure, this bout will have been a seriosu learning experience for Tso.
In non-Asian action on the "Fists of Gold 2" card fans were treat to a Heavyweight showdown between Mexican Andy Ruiz Jr (20-0, 14) and American Joe Hanks (21-1, 14). With both men entering the ring with unbeaten records the bout was hugely interesting on paper though unfortunately Hanks looked out of his depth from the opening round as was stopped in eye catching fashion in the 4th.
The first world title bout on the "Fists of Gold 2" card saw Russian Evgeny Gradovich (17-0, 8) successfully defend the IBF Featherweight title as he took on the #1 challenger Mauricio Javier Munoz (26-4, 12).
As in Munoz's previous world title fight, a challenge of Toshiaki Nishioka, the Argentinian came up short despite putting on a spirited effort. It seemed from the first round to the last that Gradovich was just better in every way and whilst Munoz showed no quit he didn't have the skill to match his heart. Despite the one-sided nature of the bout it was thoroughly entertaining from the off with both men having styles that worked well together despite neither having genuinely concussive power.
The second world title fight on the Top Rank card saw Filipino Milan Melindo (29-1, 12) coming up short against Mexican Juan Francisco Estrada (25-2, 18) in a bout for the WBA "super" and WBO Flyweight titles. Melindo gave his all but was out pointed by a bigger and stronger opponent who dropped him in the 11th round to punctuate the decision in his favour.
In the main event of the "Fists of Gold 2" show Chinese amateur boxing legend Zou Shiming (2-0), a 2-time Olympic Gold medal winner, out pointed Mexican opponent Jesus Ortega (3-2, 2).
Shiming still doesn't look like a fighter who has been able to adapt to the professional ranks as of yet and whilst defensively he looked better than on his debut he still appears to lack any real power. Our biggest worry about Shiming however is his work rate and it will need pacing much better when he moves up to 8 or even 12 round contests. At the moment he starts likes a house on fire and wasn't able to keep it up for 4 rounds never matter an extend distance.
In the US, Japanese fighter Nihito Arakawa (24-3-1, 16) came up well short against Omar Figueroa (22-0-1, 17) in a bout for the WBC "interim" Lightweight title. Although he was widely beaten on the cards Arakawa really did prove to be a tough guy who refused to just lie down and instead helped put on a Fight of the Year contender. The bout was a war from the off and really was something special that every fan needs to watch before the year is out.
Unfortunately the American continent wasn't great for Tenkai Tsunami (18-8, 7) either as she was beaten in Mexico by Jessica Chavez (19-3-2, 4) via a decision.
Amazingly with all the major action that got attention on the international scale it was pretty easy to forget that "Shape Up Boxing" hosted a domestic card in the Philippines.
The card in the Philippines may have been easy to forget about though it's fair to say that it actually was worth noting.
The main event saw Richard Pumicpic (13-5-2, 4), a late fill in for Bernabe Concepcion, defeat Richard Betos (20-7-1, 7) via a decision. Although Pumicpic's record doesn't look great he's a fighter who is actually much better than one would assume. Sure it's unlikely he'll ever become a world title holder but it wouldn't be a shock if he was to challenge for a world title some where down the line.
Talking about titles there was a title fight on the card, admittedly a female title bout. The unbeaten Jessebelle Pagaduan (6-0, 4) successfully claimed the Philippines Games & Amusement Board (GAB) female Minimumweight title thanks to a 3rd round stoppage of Carleans Rivas (2-1-3).
Pumicpic/Betos was one of 5 bouts scheduled for 10 rounds and one of a brace to actually go the distance with the other seeing Jeffrey Cerna (14-7, 5) out pointing Jaymart Toyco (12-4, 8) via a majority decision. This bout saw both men being dropped though managing to hear out the final bell in a genuinely well matched contest.
The shortested of the bouts scheduled for 10, and in fact the shortest bout on the card, lasted just 74 seconds as Ronelle Ferreras (12-5-2, 5) blasted out Michael Landero (16-10-4, 5). Ferreras was joined by Virgil Puton (10-3, 4) who stopped Prell Tupaz (8-21-4, 1) in the 4th round.
The remaining 10 round contest also only went 4 rounds with Eden Sonsona (32-6-1, 10) managing only a technical draw with Daniel Ferreras (12-6-2, 4) after a clash of heads.
The women's title fight was scheduled for 6 rounds, so too were 3 other bouts. These bouts saw Bebong Manalo (6-1, 3) take a majority decision over Eljohn Evangelista (2-3); Rowel Rosia (4-2, 2) defeat Jhon Rey de Asis (3-1, 3) and Reymon Dayham (3-1, 3) suffer his first loss thanks to JC Francisco (3-6-1).
In the only 4 round contest on the show Eric Pansa (1-1-1) claimed his first victory taking a decision over the debuting Iluminado Bismanos Jr (0-1).
There was also a show in China as the unbeaten Zhang Junlong (4-0, 4) defeated American veteran Cullen Rogers (10-38-2, 6). This bout admittedly by-passed us originally though on paper it was a good step up for "The Dragon King".
We try and give you the latest results on all the fights from Asia.