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.
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.