It’s rare for major American produced and televised boxing to be hosted in China. Another rather uncommon occurrence within the sport is a professional making his pro debut as the headlining attraction. What makes the second oddity even more unorthodox, is that the fighter competing in his first bout was the main attraction on a card featuring two world championship bouts. One of which between Puerto Rico’s Roman Martinez(27-1-2,16 KOs) and Diego Magdeleno(23-1, 9, KOs). The question would be asked by the casual onlooker, why is the pugilist who has yet to compete in the pros headlining a card featuring two world champions? Well Shiming is not just a top prospect from China, him being a gold medalist still does not explain it all. It’s the fact that Zou Shiming became a national hero in his country when he won his gold medal in Bejing, during the 2008 games. He would follow that up by capturing gold once more, in the London Olympic games.
As for the opening televised bout, Roman Martinez, 30, would win a disputed decision handing Diego Magdaleno, a Las Vegas, his first defeat in what was the 26 year old’s first attempt at winning a world championship. Although it was a close well fought affair, the outcome was not a foregone conclusion. Leaving both the champion Martinez and Magdaleno awaiting the judges’ verdict.
In the fourth, Martinez threw a punch straighter than a perfectly launched arrow from a bow. Magdaleno however would recover, though Martinez would also win the fifth as Magdaleno continued to get his wits about him. Before Magdaleno tasted the canvas, he was in control in the preceding three rounds. Bearing this in mind, Magdaleno already showcased that he could seize the advantage once more. And that he seemed to do by being the craftier, quicker fighter from the outside, implementing superior combinations, and body punching throughout until the twelfth. The judges ringside however, saw it otherwise. Which was perhaps influenced due to Martinez landing the most eye popping punch of the night, the knockdown in the fourth. Thus Martinez exited still the world’s WBO junior lightweight champion.
The second world championship bout would typically be the main event on roughly 70 to 75 percent of today’s boxing cards. A fight between the explosive, Filipino-American flyweight champion of the world, Brian Viloria, 32, and Juan Francicso Estrada, 22. Viloria, (32-4, 19 KOs), was the favorite to retain both of his WBO, and WBA world titles, but the star suffered a opposite fate. Dispatching and wiping the good taste out the mouth of Viloria’s finest hour, his victory in a unification with Hernan Marquez last year. Estrada had a antidote for Viloria’s dynamic style, good boxing on the outside, and toughness. Viloria won the first and would have good spurts of momentum, but typically in shot bunches and not consistently enough. During the other two minutes of the stanzas, Estrada (23-2, 18 KOs) would nail Viloria with the occasional hard shot to make Viloria respect him and then use his advantages on the outside. On the inside, Estrada would often smother Viloria’s punches as well, limiting Viloria’s explosiveness.
As said before, that fight should have been the main event. It was the most significant fight on the card, and a competitive barn burner at that. Competitive and entertaining enough to warrant a rematch. Vilora has been a very good fighter in boxing for nearly a decade now, and after giving a good effort he deserves a shot at redemption. Viloria was also Estrada’s biggest victory to date, elevating his status and making a rematch with the very marketable Viloria all the more logical.
And like the quiet before the storm, the crowd on hand was silent until their gold medalist countrymen made his entrance. The boxing crowd on hand, seemed similar to that of Lebron James’ first game with the Cleveland Cavaliers. This is no knock to Shiming, who did look athletically gifted, but boxing version of a Lebron James type phenom he is not. For one Shiming is 31, an age where most fighters are at their peaks. China however, is a global power starved for it’s own superstar in the sport and so the enthusiasm was apparent this past Saturday night.
Shiming swept his Mexican foe, Eleazar Valenzuela, through four one-sided rounds. Valenzula, dropped to 2-2-2, 1 KO, as Shiming improved to 1-0, 0 KO. Shiming showed some good athletic gifts and was able to move in and out of range well; But in the professional ranks it takes more than natural gifts to win at the highest level, as one may do at the Olympics. If Shiming can vastly improve other facets of his game, his skills and technique, then he can truly be a blue chip (albeit a 31 year old one) prospect.
What is truly good news for boxing was the response the sport received from a country that is not as immersed in the sport as others are. It has been proven in the past that countries such as Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, the UK, and most recently the Philippines for example, have helped sparked new found global intrigue in the sweet science. Interest that has produced consumers from the aforementioned countries, as well as the people sharing their ethnicity. This was a successful experiment by boxing. A experiment similar to when the NFL visits London during the regular season. The NFL is considered the country’s largest sporting entity. Well for a sport supposedly on the decline, boxing produced quite a significant buzz in a country that is not one of the main participants of the sport. Perhaps China will emerge in the future as a bigger fish in the pond of boxing. They were given two very good competitive fights, and perhaps a look at their country’s most prominent up and coming fighter.