Earlier this year we saw Panamanian based Venezuelan Nehomar Cermeno (25-5-1-1, 15) revive his career out of nowhere as he scored a dominant stoppage win against Qiu Xiao Jun (21-3, 10) to claim the WBA Super Bantamweight title. At the time the win was seen as an upset with Cermeno being a 36 year old who had essentially fought just 23 rounds in the previous 3 years, and the fact he was fighting in front of a very pro-Jun audience in Beijing. In the ring however the bout was a battle of skills and sadly for Jun he lacked them in comparison to Cermeno who gave him a boxing lesson.
Since reviving his career with the 12th round TKO win over Jun we've seen Cermeno shake off some more ring rust as he recorded his first defense of the title, scoring a brutal 3rd round KO against Nop Kratingdaenggym. He again showed his skills, timing and under-rated speed, and it looked like the veteran still had a lot left in the tank and to offer the sport.
At his very best Cermeno was a real handful. He twice defeated the brilliant Cristian Mijares, and twice lost in razor thin bouts to Anselmo Moreno, as well as a very debatable defeat to Victor Terrazas. Sadly for Cermeno the loss to Terrazas saw his career take a slide with a stoppage loss against Fernando Montiel, a draw with Yoandris Salinas and a loss to Alexander Bahktin. Those set backs, which came one after the other, saw Cermeno's record fall from 18-0 (10) to 20-5-1 (12) and saw many suggest his career was over. He would take a while out of the ring but has since gone 5-0-0-1 (3) taking the unbeaten record of Oscar Escandon and Nop, as well as his first win over Jun.
Although Cermeno as once one of the most under-rated talents in the sport he is now 37 and questions have to be asked about how long he can continue to put his body through the rigours of training.
As for Jun the first loss to Cermeno has been put down to an injury, something that was recently revealed in the Chinese press, though there will obviously be doubts about the legitimacy or significance of the injury. Since that defeat however the Dragon has bounced back, dominating Filipino Robert Udtohan en route to a 3rd round stoppage win, with that win coming on the same show as Cermeno's win over Nop. That bout saw an improved looking Jun fighting with more conviction than he had against Cermeno. Whether that was due to the injury from the Cermeno bout having healed or just being more comfortable against the Filipino is however debatable.
At his best Jun is a pretty basic fighter. Like many Chinese fighter's he's a bit crude, a bit physical and a bit rough around the edges, though has a much more traditional style than the wild Ik Yang. The rough edges disguise a genuinely promising fighter who is hard working, determined and showing regular signs of improvement. He is still a bit right hand happy, and it's clear he's not a natural boxer, but his team have worked hard to smooth off his flaws and have developed a solid but basic fighter. Sadly whilst Jun at his best is decent, Jun at his worst is slow, lumbering, open and wild, the type of fighter who is made to order for a skilled boxer like Cermeno.
Although Jun may have been carrying an injury into his first bout with Cermeno it wasn't the injury that decided the result. Instead it was the gulf in skills. That is likely to be the issue again here with Cermeno almost certainly set to retain his title. A fully fit Jun might be able to see out the final bell, but the reality is that Cermeno isn't coming in with a load of ring rust this time around, he's had 15 rounds this year alone, more than he had in 2014 and 2015 combined, and isn't likely to need as much time to get his timing and distance here as he did in the first bout. We wouldn't be shocked to see Jun being stopped again here.
Over the last few years things have been hard on Chinese boxing. We have seen high profile losses for the likes of Xiong Xhao Zhong, Zou Shiming and Ik Yang and it seems like every time a Chinese fighter seems to be on the verge of something notable they suffer a setback or fail to shine in the way they are supposed to.
Thankfully however, given the size of China, there is always going to be someone else coming through the ranks and the next man is Super Bantamweight contender Qiu Xiao Jun (20-2, 9) who finally gets his shot at a world title on June 24th. The under-rated Chinese fighter will be battling for the vacant WBA crown and will be facing Venezuelan born veteran Nehomar Cermeno (23-5-1-1, 13), a 36 year old who debuted back in 2004.
Of the two men it's Cermeno who is the better known. He's a tricky fighter who has really made his name fighting away from home, basing himself in Panama for much of his career though also scoring wins in Argentina, Germany, Mexico, El Salvador and his native Venezuela, whilst also fighting a losing effort in Russia. As well as being a well travelled veteran Cermeno was, once, a very good fighter, beginning his career with 19 straight wins, including two victories over Cristian Mijares and twice pushing Anelmo Moreno all the way.
Since those losses to Moreno we've seen Cermeno struggle, and in fact he has since gone 4-3-1-1, with only a single win in the last 2 years, and even that came against a limited fighter in the form of Lester Medrano.
When we talk about Jun we're talking about one of China's hidden gems. He's not had the amateur background of Shiming, or the Western attention of Ik Yang, but he has had a genuinely interesting career and shown the type of improvement that can turn a fighter into a champion. He has also had sizeable investment put into him in China.
Aged 25 Jun is a youngster though debuted close to 6 years ago and has developed well, despite suffering two early career career set backs to Jonathan Baat in Japan. Since being 8-2 (3) we've seen Jun develop his skills, strength and natural fighting mentality and racked up notable wins. Those wins have seen him avenge his losses to Baat, defeat Jason Cooper, Silvester Lopez, Amor Belahdj Ali and Raymond Commey.
In the ring Jun still has a lot of smoothing off to do, however he is a rough and tumble fighter with heavy hands, much heavier than his record suggests, a decent work rate and a growing Chinese following. He's also a man who has been hungry for a title opportunity and will feel that this bout will be his chance to prove himself.
In his prime we suspect Cermeno would have clowned with Jun, who is still very crude. Today's Cermeno however is a shadow of that fighter and we really can't see him over-coming the younger, hungrier and naturally bigger Jun in this match up.
If Jun does win this one, as we suspect, he will become just the second man in Chinese boxing history to become a world champion, following in the footsteps of Zhong.
World Title Previews
The biggest fights get broken down as we try to predict who will come out on top in the up coming world title bouts.