If their is one thing we're excited about it's the possibility of China becoming a genuine boxing nation. We know it's a very, very long way from becoming a reality however we are slowly seeing the country become more relevant in the world of professional boxing. The next major step on that journey comes on April 24th when obscure Chinese fighter Ma Yi Ming (12-5, 7) attempts to claim the WBA interim Light Flyweight title and upset once beaten champion Randy Petalcorin (22-1-1, 17).
The bout, which is being held in Beijing, will be Petalcorin's first defense of the title that he actually won in China, in Shanghai. Petalcorin won that belt by stopping Walter Tello in 7 rounds in what was, for all intents, his stand out win thus far. The win is the one that has defined the talented Filipino though one that has left many wondering what exactly he can do.
Aged 23 Petalcorin has long been tipped as a potential star and under the guidance of Peter Maniatis and Jim Claude Manangquil he has slowly developed into a solid looking, though relatively unproven, fighter.
Watching Petalcorin in action shows his ability and shows that he's a fighter who passes the “Eye Test”. He appears to have a razor like jab, solid timing and delightful handspeed as well as very good movement. In fact against Tello it was his jab and movement that impressed us more than anything else. There is however some things he'll be wanting to work on before stepping up too the top level. Notably his defense does have holes in it that show themselves when he throws his combinations and his footwork, at times, does get a little sloppy, though it's covered well with his speed.
Given his age there is a lot of time for the Filipino to work on his issues though they are there and against an elite level fighter in the division they could be taken advantage of. Against Tello they weren't made into any sort of an issue, though the fighters did look on completely different levels from the start of the fight with Petalcorin looking far too good for his over-matched foe.
The challenger, Ming, is rightfully the under-dog though he is better than his record suggests. In fact looking at Ming's record for just the numbers is very misleading and ignores the fact he's improved from being the fighter he once was.
When he began his career back in 2007 Ming lost his first 3 bouts by stoppage, all of which were on the road. These included an opening round defeat to current WBC Minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin. After 5 fights his career seemed a relatively pointless one and he was 1-4 (1) having lost in Thailand, South Korea and the US. Since then however he has gone 11-1 (6), with his only loss coming to Jonathan Baat, and built himself a solid looking record fighting in China where he is 10-0 (5).
Although Ming hasn't beaten a who's who he does hold one or two interesting wins. The first of those came in 2009 when Ming claimed the WBO China Zone Flyweight title with a 9th round TKO win against compatriot Wang Xinghua, who later went on to draw with Akihiro Matsumoto and upset Lionel Legada. In 2011 the Chinese fighter over-came journeyman Ricky Manufoe of Indonesia and the now promising Hanuman Sithluangporphun of Thailand. More recently he has scored stoppages against Albert Alcoy, Jin-Man Jeon and a big decision win over Tommy Seran, which saw him claiming the WBO Asia Pacific Light Flyweight title.
The footage we've seen of Ming is interesting to say the least. He appears a defensively tight pressure fighter who comes forward behind a high guard. Offensively however things are much less tight and Ming does leave himself open when he is throwing punches with many of his shots being wide, wild and looping. Looking at him he's also not the quickest or the most powerful punching.
From what we've seen of the two men involved it does seem like Petalcorin is a much better, more rounded fighter than the Chinese fighter. That's not to say Ming has nothing going for him, after all he's at home and unbeaten in China, though for Ming to win he would need a career best performance. What we're expecting to see is Petalcorin being too fast and too sharp for the Chinese fighter who will try to exert his pressure and come forward but be too slow to really trouble Petalcorin. The Filipino will be tagged a few times from the looping shots but ride them well before firing back and in the end it will be a test of Ming's toughness. If Ming is tough enough to see out the storm he will likely lose a wide decision, odds are however that Petalcorin's shots take their toll on the challenger who fails to see out the distance.
Whilst a win for Petalcorin will be another hit against the rise of Chinese boxing it will help him become more legitimate ahead of possible match ups against the likes of Ryoichi Taguchi, the current WBA champion, or Thailand's unbeaten Paipharob Kokietgym.
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