If you run a business, it makes much sense to offer your product where a ton of people reside. Yes, boxing in China, population 1.35 billion, makes sense if you're Top Rank, especially if you have a two-time Olympic gold medalist, in Zou Shiming, making his pro debut.
"The fighting hero of all China," Michael Buffer bellowed to the fans at Cotai Arena from the Venetian in Macau, a region of China, on Saturday, of Shiming.
The 31-year-old debuter won his maiden outing, against Eleazar Valenzuela, of Mexico, in a flyweight tussle. If you expected an "old China" style of fighting, you were surprised as Zou looked like he was having a ball while he had his way with the Mexican. He kept his hands low, danced, slid, smiled and grooved his way to a 40-36, 40-36, 40-36 victory.
Yes, Zou moved a lot, smiled, looked loose and like he was having fun in the first. The HBO2 crew, of Tim Ryan, Larry Merchant and George Foreman, soaked up the atmosphere and all got a kick out of Zou, trained by Freddie Roach, making $300,000 for his debut, set for four rounds or fewer. The Mexican snapped a sharp jab, and it struck me that it was to Top Rank's credit that they didn't throw a canvasback in against the favorite. A sharp left hook from Zou made the crowd happy late in the second. Val moved forward, stayed in Zou's face, worked the jab, and made the third a tight round. A sharp right jazzed the crowd and made Val blink twice late in the third. Zou was loosey-goosey, shuffling, throwing from funky angles, really freelancing out there. He looked like he enjoyed the pro canvas. Zou showed some decent D, as he slipped shots and rolled with punches effectively. Zou carried his left low, went lefty for short spurts, and if any one thing stood out, it was his exuberance.
Mexican Juan Francisco Estrada upset Hawaiian Brian Viloria, the WBO and WBA flyweight champ, by scores of 116-111, 117-111, and 113-115. Estrada went to 23-2 and Viloria, age 32, dropped to 43-4. The 22 year old took it to V from the start; he enjoyed a slight height and reach edge. He popped upstairs, downstairs, all over, and it looked like he had the faster hands and maybe more zing on his shots as well. Merchant had Estrada ahead after six while Foreman saw it even. Uppercuts worked for Estrada, and his body work was present the whole way through. V lost zest later, and the kid was still ripping in the 11th. "I don't think he has the strength left to live up to his nickname," Ryan said of "The Hawaiian Punch." Estrada had amazing energy left in the 12th, and we went to the cards. "What a fight!" Foreman enthused.
Rocky Martinez met Diego Magdaleno in a 130 pound matchup to start off the show for TV.
After 12 rounds, Martinez exited with his WBO super feather title, by scores of 115-112, 111-116, 114-113.
Martinez (130 pounds; from Puerto Rico) was 26-2-1 entering, while was Magda (130 pounds; from Las Vegas) was 23-0 entering. Magda was the more aggressive main in the first. The lefty pumped the jab while Rocky played a waiting game, assessing his foe. Rocky looked to lead more in round two, but Magda did well countering as well. Rocky landed right hand leads, smart against the lefthander. Magda did better to the body of the two through three. A left hand tagged Rocky and the quiet crowd woke up.
In the fourth, Magda went down, off a right hand, following a jab, at the 2:15 mark. A right hand sweeper nailed Rocky soon after. In the fifth, the men banged heads by accident early. Magda was the mover, mostly to his right, while the Puerto Rican patiently stalked. In the sixth, Magda scored with a right uppercut, and the crowd buzzed. In the seventh, Magda stayed dialed in. He backed up a good deal, but not in a defensive manner. He got touched late in the round, but his volume looked to be good enough to get the judges' nod, in my eyes.
In round eight, Rocky got a little hungrier, in his eyes. He looked to close the distance, but it was Magda who closed the round by pushing Rocky back to the ropes. Rocky threw combos more in the ninth, but it was another tight round, like every other. In the 10th, a cut opened on Magda's left eye, from a punch. Magda stayed busy but his punches that landed clean weren't as showy as Rocky's. In the 11th, it struck me finally that the lack of a nasty left hook hurt Rocky. If Magda didn't want to run into that, he'd have moved to his left more, into the power right hand. Magda moved and I wondered if the judges would look down on that as they do so many times. I didn't, I thought he boxed a heckuva fight. In the 12th and final round, Rocky whined about head butting. Magda's left hand hit the target, but as per usual, the tough chin of Rocky didn't betray him. The crowd hollered as the final bell rang.
I didn't score carefully, and would have liked to have seen a CompuBox assessment, as I thought highly of Magda's volume. He surprised me pleasantly, and I wouldn't have been shocked if he'd had his hand raised. Rocky to me waits to much for the bomb to blow up, instead of pushing the ussie.