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...