We've all heard of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, and we've decided to put our spin on things with "Six degrees of separation" looking to connect Asian fighters you may never have assumed were connected! Today we connect former Chinese world champion Xiong Zhao Zhong to 2-time Thai world champion Chana Porpaoin.
Just as ground rules, we're not doing the more basic "A beat B who beat C who beat D" type of thing, but instead we want to link fighters in different ways. As a result we will limit A fought B connections, and try to get more varied connections together, as you'll see here! We also know there are often shorter routes to connect fighters, but that's not always the most interesting way to connect them.
1-Chinese fighter Xiong Zhao Zhong is best known for being the first Chinese fighter to win a world title, winning the WBC Minimumweight 2012. That win was a history defining one for Chinese boxing, even if his reign was a rather disappointing one. Prior to that title win his most notable bout was actually a loss in Japan to Daisuke Naito, for the WBC Flyweight title.
2-It's fair to say that Daisuke Naito had a really interesting career with a number of notable bouts, including the one with Zhong as well as bouts against Koki and Daiki Kameda. Whilst his rivalry with the Kameda family is certainly memorable so to is his 4 fight rivalry with Pongsaklek Wonjongkam.
3-Thai legend Pongsaklek Wonjongkam won his rivalry with Daisuke Naito, 2-1-1, and famously blew out Naito in their first bout. He also had a very over-looked Flyweight title reign, with defenses against a number of top fighters and future world champions, including Naito, Gilberto Keb Baas, Tomonobu Shimizu and Luis Alberto Lazarte. Despite losing it to Naito he would reclaim it by beating Koki Kameda, on a card that also featured Oleydong Sithsamerchai, who retained the WBC Minimumweight title with a win over Yasutaka Kuroki.
4-Oleydong Sithsamerchai made 6 defenses of the WBC Minimumweight title during his reign that ran from November 2007 to February 2011. His reign ended when he was stopped in 5 rounds by Kazuto Ioka, who was fighting in just 7th professional bout.
5-Kazuto Ioka isn't the only fighter to win a world title in his 7th bout, another man who achieved that feat was Korean great Sung Kil Moon, who achieved the feat when he took a technical decision win over Khaokor Galaxy to claim the WBA Bantamweight title in 1988.
6-Sung Kil Moon might have won his first world title in his 7th bout but his reign didn't last long and he lost the belt in his third defense, when he travelled to Thailand and faced Khaokor Galaxy in a rematch. On the same show as Moon's title loss was a then rising young Thai, Chana Porpaoin, who would later become a 2-time WBA Minimumweight champion.
Chinese fighter Chaozhong Xiong may have been maligned by some fans but the "Little Bear" has proven to be a significant figure in the world of boxing, specifically Chinese boxing. His influence is still being felt today thanks to the growth of Max Power Promotions, which is the promotional company that he fought under, and has lead to fighters like Can Xu getting big opportunities at the world level.
Although now retired Xiong is a figure that not many fans seem to know much about, other than that he was the first Chinese world champion. With that in mind here are 10 facts you probably didn't know about...Chaozhong Xiong.
1-Xiong's parents are both farmers. He's was their second son, and the middle child of the family, with his parents having 3 boys. Sadly his parents were poor, and struggled with paying for the tuition fees for Xiong and his his brothers.
2-Xiong dropped out of school in 2000 to help support his family. Originally the plan was to follow his older brother in to the army, but ended up doing vocational work as a repairman for a year. That repair failed to interest him and he ended up dropping out and working more manual jobs instead. Among the jobs he did were mining and working on a banana plantation. Whilst working as a miner he would often work 10 hour days for as little as ¥10 (Chinese Yuan) a day, which was around $1.20 at the time.
3-Xiong's first world title fight didn't come at his natural Minimumweight, the division he would later make his name at, but instead Flyweight. In 2009 he challenged the then WBC, and Linear, Flyweight champion Daisuke Naito. The bout was a messy one, with both men being penalised a point for head clashes, and Naito was actually dropped in round 6, though did enough to narrowly defeat Xiong.
4-On November 27th 2011 Xiong got married in Maguan County, and had a son together in September 2016.
5-Xiong is best known for being the first male Chinese world champion, though he only got that opportunity due to the then WBC president Jose Sulaiman being involved. Sulaiman paid a a $25,000 step aside fee to Denver Cuello to allow Xiong to fight for the title ahead of Cuello. That lead to Xiong beating Javier Martinez Resendiz in November 2012.
6-Outside of China Xiong went 1-4, with his sole win on foreign soil coming against Denver Cuello in 2013, in what was Xiong's second defense of the WBC Minimumweight title. Xiong's losses on the road came in Japan, 3 times, and Monaco.
7-Xiong's third world title defense, which took place on November against Lookrak Kiatmungmee, was originally set to be against Omari Kimweri. A late change of opponent was needed when Kimweri was unable to enter China due to immigration issues. As a result the, very limited, Thai got the shot on short notice.
8-In 2013 the local government gave Xiong ¥750,000 (Chinese Yuan) as a reward for his achievements in boxing. The payment saw internet users question the decision as the local area, of Maguan County, was full of poverty. The local government defended the choice by stating it was to help inspire others to follow Xiong and become a success.
9-Xiong became the first, and so far only, Chinese fighter to win a full version of an OPBF title. He did that by beating Crison Omayao by unanimous decision over 10 rounds to claim the previous vacant title.
10-Although it never actually ended up happening, Xiong was pencilled in to fight in Las Vegas in May 2013 against Carlos Ortega from Panama. This bout was cancelled, and Zhong never actually ended up fighting in the US during his 36 fight career. As a result we had to wait until 2019, when Can Xu defended the WBA Featherweight title against Manny Robles III, to see a Chinese fighter defending a world title on US soil.
Extra fact 1 -Xiong faced off with Lu Bin in 2016 at a special event put on by CCTV5 to celebrate Chinese new year. Sadly for Xiong he was easily beaten by Bin, who was too quick, too skilled and too sharp for the then former professional world champion. This bout isn't on the record of either man as it was fought with a unique rule set.
Extra fact 2 -On his 35th birthday Xiong scored his last wins as a professional, beating Panya Pradabsri for the WBA International Minimumweight title. There was certainly a feeling he got a birthday present from the judges. He would only fight once more afterwards, losing to Knockout CP Freshmart almost 10 months later.
Thinking Out East
With this site being pretty successful so far we've decided to open up about our own views and start what could be considered effectively an editorial style opinion column dubbed "Thinking Out East" (T.O.E).