By Rene Bonsubre
The home fans tried to propel Raymond Poon Kai Ching to victory. But Li Xiang’s hand speed and ring generalship made him the superior fighter Sunday night at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center.
Li, from mainland China, piled up the points using angles . Poon was aggressive and tried to land a homerun punch in almost every round. But he had trouble putting his punches in bunches on many occasions. His single shots were negated by Li’s accuracy. As they grew tried in the later rounds, both were willing to throw defense out of the window and just brawl. But Li’s poise pulled him through.
The scores of the three judges – Edward Ligas (Philippines) – 96-94, Mark Leong (Macao) – 99-91, Mekin Sumon (Thailand) – 97-93. The referee was Surat Soikrachang from Thailand. Li was awarded the vacant WBO Youth light flyweight title as well as taking Poon’s WBC ABCO and ABF belts.
Poon is now 7-2,4KO’s while Li goes up to 7-2-1,2KO’s.
But there was more at stake than just the three belts in the card’s main event. DEF Promotions lost Rex Tso, Hong Kong’s main draw, last year. Tso, after recovering from his eye injury he sustained in a bout against Japanese Kohei Kono in 2017, decided to seek a slot in the 2020 Olympics. This left a void in Hong Kong boxing. The crowd that witnessed the Sunday night card was a far cry from the sell-out, multi-million dollar gate that Tso used to bring at the Hong Kong Convention Center. Poon got the crowd’s admiration for his courage. The Hong Kong fighters on the crowd came up with impressive wins. But it remains to be seen if they can sustain fan interest here in Hong Kong and neighboring Macao where pro boxing is relatively new.
The Japanese contingent finished with 1W-2L. The eye-catching female bout between Japanese Nanako Suzuki and Filipina Renz Dacquel had Suzuki on the canvas in round one. Dacquel held on to her lead with volume punching and came up 39-36 on all cards.
Nibesh Ghale, a Nepalese residing in Hong Kong, battered and bloodied Shogo Yamamoto and stopped him round four. Ren Sasaki, Japan boxing’s 2017 Rookie of the Year, was impressive in the supporting main bout and pummeled a bloody Ma Ge An, from mainland China, forcing the referee to call a halt in the sixth.
Macao’s Cheong Lap Cheong kept his unbeaten record by winning all the rounds against Indonesian Muhamad Wahid in a six rounder. Cheong is now 6-0,4KO’s and has a fan friendly style that could make him a future local attraction.
Lennon Tsoi, a Hong Kong native born in the Philippines, beat Thai Wichet Sengprakhon who quit in his stool at the end of round four. British born Tom Taw avenged his lone career loss by unanimous decision against Jeremy Lee Tsun Yin. In the opening bout, Zhuo Zhiqiang, from mainland China, won his pro debut against Taiwanese Hong Chuan Hsun by unanimous decision. Hong was decked in rounds one and four.
The camp of Chinese promoter Liu Gang celebrated Li Xiang’s win. Li’s two losses came at the hands of Filipinos last year – Miel Fajardo by majority decision in Qingdao, China and Johnathan Almacen by unanimous decision in Pasay City, Philippines. Liu Gang also promotes WBA featherweight champ Xu Can, China’s only world title-holder at the moment. There are Filipino trainers now working in their camp and they will continue to work on Li’s improvement now that he will move up the rankings with this victory.
Photo - Li Xiang celebrates winning three belts
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