To many Zhong's victory over Javier Martinez Resendiz for the WBC title was a case of Zhong being given an undeserved opportunity to create history. To others however it was a chance for boxing to awaken a sleeping giant in the potentially huge Chinese boxing market.
The only thing that was obvious with Zhong's victory over Resendiz was that Zhong would have to face stiffer competition if he was wanting to hold the title for long. The WBC, who had hepeld Zhong secure his place in history had already had a final eliminator and so Zhong's first challenger was already arranged and was certainly a tougher opponent than Resendiz.
Known as "Mr Excitement" Cuello has been one of the most fun to watch young Filipino's in the boxing world and also one of the top Minimumweights over the past few years.
Going in to the bout there is a lot of pressure on both men. Not only will it be Zhong's first defense of a world title (the first, by any man from China) but will also be Cuello's first chance, at long last, to become a world champion.
Although the pressure on both men is huge it's likely to be more so on Zhong who holds his nations hopes on his shoulders despite the fact that this bout will be fought on neutral turf in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates.
The 30 year old Zhong, who has been professional since 2006, first made his mark on the boxing world in 2009 when he challenged Daisuke Naito for the WBC Flyweight title. Although Zhong put up a good fight and dropped Naito he failed to do enough to claim the decision and instead had to go back home from Japan belt less.
Since the loss to Naito, Zhong has improved, dropped down in weight and claimed a world title though is still an unproven fighter and not a fighter many would feel is deserving of a world title belt.
Despite his improvements from the Naito fight Zhong is still technically limited though he looks to be a strong fighter (likely the case with the fact he has previously fought at Flyweight) he has very solid stamina (from training at Kumming). It's his technical limitations however that are likely to be key and he can be caught clean pretty easily (Resendiz managed to tag him several times), against a top fighter being caught can mean good night.
The 26 year old challenger, has been a professional since 2004 and although he started his professional career 3-2-4 he has become one of the top Minimumweights in the world on merit.
Cuello, known for his hard punching and aggressive style has scored notable wins in the past few years including stoppages of former world champion Muhammad Rachman, former world title contenders Omar Soto and Takashi Kunishige and the highly ranked Ganigan Lopez.
With seriously hurtful power, devastating body shots and an attacking mindset Cuello is a nightmare to fight. He's a fighter who knows how to hurt opponents with wicked uppercuts and hooks and refuses to be intimidated in the ring. He's technically a bit crude but so powerful, tough and strong that many opponents crumble either under his power or under his pressure.
The big question going in to this bout is whether or not Zhong will manage to get the respect of Cuello. If he can't then this will be a painful night for the Chinese fighter will will be forced to take hurtful shots upstairs and downstairs from a very talented and confident fighter. If Zhong can get Cuello's respect then we may well have a very competitive contest on our hands, unfortunately for Zhong it's not often we see Cuello respecting his opponents too much.
If asked to pick it's hard to go against Cuello. Sure the Filipino has looked less than stellar in his last 2 outings (a 10 round majority decision over Takashi Kunishige and a 10 round unanimous decision over Ivan Meneses) but he has only suffered 1 defeat in 7 years (and that was a disqualification in Mexico in a bout he seemed to be winning).
Note-Despite the spelling we've used through out the preview, the correct spelling of the Chinese fighter's name is actually Xiong Chao Zhong (as mentioned in an article on gokumming.com from 2012).