Fights in China tend to get over-looked. Streams for them are possible but for the most part western fans only really watch the biggest bouts from China, the world title bouts. This leaves a lot of gems that get over-looked. Today we look at one of those gems as we roll back to August and see an unbeaten Chinese hopeful take on a hungry Filipino, looking to take a win on the road.
Zhong Liu (13-0, 5) vs Jess Rhey Waminal (13-2-1, 8)
Chinese southpaw Zhong Liu isn't someone we expect many fight fans to be too familiar with. The Super Bantamweight prospect made his debut in late 2015 and spent the first year of his career fighting as a very low level, with his most notable early opponent being Filipino journeyman Landy Cris Leon. He began to step up his competition in 2017, when he beat Noldi Manakane. He continued to face progressively better competition and in 2019 Liu took another step up as he took on Filipino fighter Jess Rhey Waminal. Liu had shown plenty of promise but still had a lot of questions to answer, and we expected to see him being asked those question by Waminal.
Whilst Liu is an unknown Chinese fighter it's fair to say that Jess Rhey Waminal is also a relatively unknown outside of hardcore fans of the Asian scene. The Filipino had developed a reputation as an exciting fighter to watch with an aggressive style and was fringe regional level, having given Ben Mananquil a real tough bout in an OPBF "interim" title bout in 2017 and his only other loss was an early career defeat to the under-rated Carlo Demecillo. Despite those set backs he had beaten the likes of Joe Tejones and Jin Wook Lim coming into this bout. Technically he's raw, but he's aggressive and has power that can turn fights around.
Coming in to this we knew it could be a lot of fun, as any bout with Waminal can be, but we didn't know what to expect from Liu, who was showing promise but had so many questions still to answer.
To start the bout Liu was the one coming forward as Waminal tried to see what the local had to offer. It was smart from the usually aggressive Waminal, giving him a chance to get used to the reach and southpaw stance of Liu. Midway through the opening round we began to see more from Waminal as both men showed more willingness to let their hands go. Liu did more than enough to take the opening round, but we were starting to see Waminal respond to everything.
Liu tried to stick to a game plan of fighting at range, using his southpaw jab and straight left hand to keep Waminal at bay in round 2. That was easier said than done as the Filipino mixed things up well, backing off at times, then rushing Liu, and hammering him with body shots when the two got close, trying to take Liu's legs.
Waminal became more aggressive in round 3, and was on the front foot early as the bout began to resemble the fight he was wanting. Liu was being forced backwards and being forced to work very hard.
Although the bout never became an all out war it was a thoroughly engaging and had two men with contrasting styles that worked well together. A worth while watch for those who missed it live, back in August.
Takahiro Onaga is a regular contributor to Asian Boxing and will now be a featured writer in his own column where his takes his shot at various things in the boxing world.