Over the last 12 months or saw we've slowly seen more and more notable names emerging from China. They aren't just those involved in the Macau escapades of Bob Arum but also those involved in the Chinese scene promoted by Zovi boxing and those slowly making a name for themselves in the west, such as Taishan Dong, Zhang Zhilei and recently debuting pair Meng Fanlong and Wang Zhimin. Despite the rise in Chinese boxing there is still only 1 male world champion from the country. That is former WBC Minimumweight title holder Xiong Zhao Zhong (24-6-1, 14).
Zhong's reign as a world champion was somewhat short lived with 3 successful defenses before he came up short against marauding Mexican Oswaldo Novoa last February. Sadly for Zhong last year was a disappointing one with losses to both Novoa and current WBA champion Hekkie Budler. Despite those set backs the diminutive 32 year old from Kunming will be continuing his career and will return to the ring for his next outing on February 22nd.
Zhong will be among a number of Chinese fighters on the card though he is certainly the most internationally well known of domestic fighters in action, and he'll be hoping to get back to winning ways. The bull like former world champion will be hoping to recapture some gold on his return as he battles for the WBC International title against former Japanese title challenger Hiroya Yamamoto (8-2, 3). On paper it's a mismatch however it's a huge opportunity for the 23 year old Japanese fighter.
The Japanese fighter has lost 2 of his last 3 though they have come to under-rated fighters. The first of those was to the very over-looked Hayato Yamaguchi, who recently dropped a split decision to the world ranked Renan Trongco, whilst the other was a Japanese title fight to Go Odaira, who we recently saw come up short in a world title effort against Katsunari Takayama.
This might end up being a mismatch though it's still nice to see Zhong returning to action and hopefully with a win he will manage to reach the summit once again. On the other hand a win for Yamamoto would be massive for the youngster.
(Image courtesy of http://wbcboxing.com)
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