After a string of great Minimumweight title fights in recent years, such as the recent contests between Hiroto Kyoguchi and Vince Parras and Ryuya Yamanaka and Vic Saludar we got a total stinker today. The bout saw WBA Minimumweight champion Knockout CP Freshmart (18-0, 7) [น็อคเอาท์ ซีพีเฟรชมาร์ท] battle against against "interim" champion Xiong Zhao Zhong (27-8-1, 14) [熊朝忠] in China, in what was Knockout's first bout outside of Thailand. Sadly what looked like it could have been a good bout just never really got going and ended up being a slow, dull and actionless affair.
The early rounds looked like Knockout was going through the motions. He gave away the first two rounds on our cards without putting up any sort of an effort. It looked like he was on cruise control whilst Zhong did just enough, with his picking and poking, to out work the inactive Thai. It was an embarrassing start from both men given the world title status of this bout, but thankfully the bout did pick up pace in round 3 when Knockout showed a few glimpses of his ability. The Thai finally looked like he had signs of life.
Round 4 was another where Knockout made it easy to give the round to the Chinese fighter. The Thai wasn't actionless but didn't ever press the fight like he could have. It was clear when he did land that Zhong dislikes the sting on his shots, but he rarely put his shots together. That changed slightly in round 5, when Knockout did try to put punches together, but struggled to land them as the small Zhong used his lack of size to avoid the shots of Knockout.
With the styles not gelling in the first half of the fight things only got worse as the two men began to wrestling more and more. The exertion of not boxing seemed to take it's toll on both men who fell into each other repeatedly, got too close and really failed to find any spark. At distance the only work of any note was Zhong's jab, often thrown as he came in with little behind it, whilst on the inside neither man had any real success landing anything relevant. Even the pro-Chinese fans seemed to have been bored, despite their man being involved in the fight.
At the end of 12 rounds it was hard to believe anyone really card about the contest any more, though credit to the judges who showed their commitment to the cause by handing in complete scorecards. They were read out as 118-110, twice, and 116-112 all in favour of Knockout CP Freshmart, who seemed to be so fed up that he even failed to celebrate after the bout.
Despite the win Knockout will have done himself and his career no good here, and no one will be in a rush to see his next bout. Zhong on the other hand will likely be retiring, with his 36th birthday just a few short months away.
The Minimumweight division continues to enthrall us almost weekly and it did it again this past Saturday in Monte Carlo as China's Xiong Zhao Zhong (24-6-1, 14) put up a great effort in a close and hard fought loss to South African slickster Hekkie Budler (27-1, 9), the current WBA Minimumweight world champion.
The bout saw Zhong fighting in Europe for the first time whilst Budler returned to the scene of his previous defense, an 8th round KO against Pigmy Kokietgym, and it also saw Zhong impressing with a very gallant performance against one of the division's most talented fighters. In fact despite Budler's edge in talent and speed he was put until a lot of pressure, especially early one when Zhong managed to drop the South African champion.
Unfortunately for Zhong the knockdown was effectively neutralised the following round as the taller and rangier Budler began to use his physical tools to his advantage and dropped the diminutive Zhong late in the round.
The subsequent rounds, rounds 4-6, were close with neither man really getting the upper hand in what were really competitive rounds. They could have been scored either way though Budler certainly appeared the more skilled whilst Zhong was the more willed. It was the will and toughness of Zhong that was keep the rounds competitive though unfortunately for him that will couldn't help him in the second half of the fight as the champion found his groove and racked up the rounds needed to retain his titles.
For Zhong this is his second loss this year, following a very disappointing blow out defeat to Oswaldo Novoa. Unlike that defeat he was always competitive here and in fact his performance suggests that Novoa is actually the better and more dangerous fighters in what is quickly becoming one of the sports most must watch divisions, and we suspect it could get even better next year with a possible fight between Budler and someone like Kosei Tanaka or Katsunari Takayama both of which would be fantastic fights.
Upsets and shocks are part of this sport, they are part of why we love boxing and part of the reason why we follow the sport despite the suspect politics and bizarre decisions made by judges, referees and officials. Unfortunately for us, as Asian Boxing, we are on the reverse side of an upset today.
This past Saturday saw Filipino Rey Loreto score a stunning stoppage of Nkosinathi Joyi. Today however the upset came against China's Xiong Zhao Zhong (22-5-1, 12) as the diminutive Chinese fighter lost his WBC Minimumweight title to the unheralded Osvaldo Novoa (13-4-1, 8).
Zhong, who went in to the bout widely regarded as a top 10 fighter in the division, was expected to defeat his visiting opponent who was fighting outside of Mexico for the first time. Unfortunately however Novoa turned out, just like Loreto, to be much better than his record indicated.
The fight actually started well for Zhong who seemed to do enough to just take the opening round. Unfortunately that was the best he could do as Novoa managed to up the pressure, get inside and rough up Zhong with his strength and power. From then on it seemed like Zhong was fighting against the tide. Novoa's natural size, reach and power seemed to be taking it's toll on Zhong who always looked like a freakishly strong 105lb fighter.
When the WBC open scoring kicked in after round 4 there was no denying Zhong was in trouble. All 3 judges had the fight 39-37 in favour of the Mexican who had clearly won everything other than round 1 as Zhong had struggled to even make a dent in his physically imposing Mexican rival.
Unfortunately for Zhong things never got any better as Novoa found another gear and battered the Chinese fighter in round 5 eventually prompting forcing Filipino based referee Bruce McTavish to call a halt to proceedings with Zhong unable to weather the storm any longer.
For Zhong this likely the end his career at the world level. This sort of a loss won't do him any sort of favours when looking over his career and unfortunately will leave many feeling he really was little more than a WBC puppet. Sadly however Zhong just ran into a stronger, more complete and determined fighter who wasn't to be beaten on this night.
For Novoa it seems certain that he'll be one to watch in the future. He's exciting, aggressive and highly dangerous. Whilst we'd not doubt that Katsunari Takayama would love to fight him we can't imagine many others will be queuing for a fight with him.
Incidentally the #1 contender for Novoa is Thailand's unbeaten Wanheng Menayothin, my my what a fight that could be...
When an opponent is changed at late notice you typically don't expect the replacement opponent to be very. We saw an example of that earlier today in China as the WBC Minimumweight champion Xiong Zhao Zhong (22-4, 12) successfully retained his title for the second time.
Originally scheduled to fight Australian based Omari Kimweri it looked likely that Zhong would face a genuine test. Sadly Kimweri was ruled out of the fight a few days ago due to "passport issues" and instead Zhong took on Thailand's limited Lookrak Kiatmungmee (7-5, 4).The limitations of Kitamungmee were evident from the off as Zhong just walked through the Thai's limp looking jabs.
The Thai, to his credit, tried to use his height and reach advantages but sadly lacked the power to back up the tough and strong Zhong who soon found his way inside the challenger.
On the inside there was no competition. Kiatmugnee had no idea what to do to cope with the short shots inside by the champion who was targeting the body with both hands. Unfortunately for the Thai these body shots were destroying him both physically and mentally and after just 3 rounds Kiatmugmee was looking like a scared fighter. He knew he had no answers lacked the ability to change the action.
With the champion firmly in control after 4 rounds it was beginning to look like the bout would last as long as Zhong wanted it too. As it turned out Zhong didn't want it to last long and continued the attack to the Thai's midsection eventually dropping the Thai. Kiatmugmee showed his bravery by getting up but was soon sent crumbling to the canvas for the 10 count.
For Kiatmugmee this was his one chance in front of the bright lights and television cameras, for Zhong however this could be a regular thing. Hopefully, if it is a regular thing, Zhong will be facing better opponents than this next time out.
Courtesy of boxrec.com
In the biggest fight in Asia this weekend China's first ever (male) boxing world champion Xiong Zhao Zhong (21-4-1, 11) successfully defended his title for the first time in a bout held in Dubai.
Facing the highly regarded Filipino Denver Cuello (33-5-6, 21), many, including ourselves felt that Zhong's reign as a world champion were number. This view was strengthened in the opening round when Cuello managed to put Zhong down and really seemed to dent the Chinese's fighters confidence.
Zhong got up from the knockdown looking fine psychically but did look mentally shaken for much of the round.
In the second round of the bout Zhong started to grow into the action and started to have real success with his right hand. The round was a close one and could have gone either way but it was obvious that the Chinese fighter was warming up.
Whilst Zhong was warming up through rounds 3 and 4 Cuello was starting to mentally crumble. He was getting frustrated at the tactics of of Zhong which he claimed involved liberal use of elbows and his head, he was looking at both the referee and his corner to help and also appeared to be suffering some kind of issue with his right hand which had left him with out a jab-thus preventing him from setting up attacks and instead he was made to look like a wild 1-handed slugger.
With the problems all getting to Cuello, Zhong started to really force himself in the bout bringing relentless pressure to the Filipino who was forced numerous times to dance away and almost run. This was notable especially in round 5 when Cuello seemed to be hurt for the first time in the bout, though the pain did appear to be more from a clash of heads than a punch.
Cuello's problems merely got worse and worse with his feet looking ragged in round 6 and his power seemingly vanishing in round 7 as Zhong took a body shot and almost seemed to ask "is that the best you got?". If they were bad enough he got the referee on his case in round 8 as the doctor took a look at his shoulder which seemed to visibly be troubling him.
Things refused to turn in favour of Cuello who was badly cut from a clash of heads in the following round. Although Zhong was deducted a point for the clash (as per the WBC's accidental foul rule) it seemed to further the idea that this wasn't going the distance. Once again Cuello was forced to use his feet and move to stay away from the on-rushing Zhong who was now looking to finish things with his fists.
Cuello managed to see out round 9 and then appeared to regain his focus, almost as if he realised he needed to get his head in to check if he was ever going to manage to turn this around. Unfortunately for the Filipino however he couldn't quite manage to real in the rounds that he had lost in the middle section of the bout. Although he managed to close the gap somewhat on Zhong, the Chinese fighter had still done enough to claim a majority decision
With Zhong having beaten Cuello, the WBC's mandatory challenger, he has legitimised himself as a world champion. There will be many questioning whether or not he's actually one of the best in the division (especially considering the fact he couldn't really hurt a 1-armed Cuello) though with the Chinese population cheering him on he certainly has the ability to be a major draw in boxing/
For Cuello this could be a major loss. Not so much that the loss it's self was a big setback (despite needing to threaten the WBC with legal action to get the fight) but the fact that his shoulder injury may be a career threatening one. It appeared as if it was a re-occurance of an injury he had previously suffered against Ivan Meneses last September. If the shoulder is as badly injured as some think then Cuello may never be the fighter that may thought he'd become.
All of us as Asian Boxing wish that Cuello has a fully and swift recovery because it would be a huge shame if boxing lost this exciting youngster at such a promising stage of his career.
World Title Results
Whether you like them or not World Titles add prestige to any bout as a result we've included the results of world title bouts in this special section.