Saturday’s Top Rank card has to be considered a success with its crowded arena and hefty ratings considered, but the success of the card itself was an achievement as well. The HBO2 card featured Zou Shiming, one of China’s most celebrated athletes at this point and a 2-time Olympic Gold Medalist. Capitalizing on such a polarizing figure, the card was held in Macau, China at the Cotai Arena and Shinmin’s fans were in full attendance, although it wasn’t the typically ruckus sold out crowd. If you’re familiar with MMA events in Japan then you’ve noticed that the Asian crowd is typically a quiet one. They see silence as a form of respect and they respect the hell out of their combatants.
Martinez def Magdaleno SD12 for WBO Junior Lightweight Title:
In the television opener, Roman “Rocky” Martinez attempted to defend his WBO title against Diego Magdaleno in a junior lightweight showdown of 2 gifted fighters with the inclination to exchange at times. The fight was ultra-competitive in my eyes, although ringside commentators: Tim Ryan, Larry Merchant, and George Foreman would beg to differ. I felt that Magdaleno was landing at a slightly higher rate, but it seemed as though Martinez’s shots were counting a bit more. There were some tough rounds to score early on.
Magdaleno — undefeated in 23 pro fights coming into this contest — was mixing up the attack well and won some of those close rounds on my card by going to the body. Diego’s defense was adequate when he was defensively oriented, but he wasn’t transitioning well and became pervious to Martinez’s right hand.
Martinez, who was coming off of a somewhat controversial split-decision draw against Juan Carlos Burgos in his last outing, started off slow. He did score a somewhat vague flash knockdown in the 4th, which was the first round I gave him in the fight, although the first 3 were closely fought. But the notoriously slow starter in Martinez began to come alive down the stretch as Magdaleno’s accuracy faltered.
Both fighters played the aggressor at times, but Rocky was the clear stalker in most rounds. Rocky started putting together his punches much more effectively and that took its toll on Magdaleno. After winning a good portion of the later rounds, especially the championship rounds, Martinez took home the split decision victory with scores of: 115-112 and 114-113 for Martinez, and 116-111 for Diego. Thaboxingvoice.com scored the fight 114-113 for Magdaleno.
Estrada def Viloria SD12 for WBA/WBO Flyweight Title:
The co-feature of the night saw Brian Viloria defending his WBA/WBO flyweight title against Juan Francisco Estrada. There was plenty of action to go around and Estrada showed that he was much more than just an opponent.
It was Viloria’s first time being a part of an HBO broadcast and the idea was to have him fight in the co-feature of his high-profiled main event counterpart because it is a potential future matchup they are looking to make for Shiming. However, Viloria was tested from an early point in the fight and Estrada was able to maintain a solid workrate while simultaneously finding himself in positions to land hard shots.
Viloria did some good work to the body while Estrada’s best work in that department fell well below the waistline. He was showing some solid boxing skills in the ring over the first 3 rounds and I felt like he was as polished as ever, possibly more so. But in the middle rounds Viloria started to get beat up and Estrada was picking up his tempo, while standing toe-to-toe with the usually durable Viloria.
Viloria was having success but it was only one punch at a time while Estrada began to put significant combinations together and that correlated with a rise in his rate of accuracy. Both fighters would find success in a given round, but Estrada managed to separate himself in those rounds by being mindful of his attack and not staying lazy, as opposed to Viloria who would display high level athleticism, doing justice to the Filipino race he shares with Nonito Donaire and Manny Pacquiao.
The rounds started to produce more excitement and more punishment as both men squared up to deliver action filled exchanges. This was what I expected would happen, quick and skillful exchanges between 2 fighters with the ability to take a punch, but to my surprise it was Estrada who was getting the better of these exchanges.
Viloria grew increasing tired in the championship rounds and it was apparent that he had lost most of the steam from his punches. In the final round it appeared as though both men felt they needed the round and they dug deep, but Viloria was pretty tapped already and he was hurt off of a flurry. Viloria mangaged to stay on his feet and the verdict was left to the judges by scores of: 115-113 for Viloria and 116-111 and 117-111 for Estrada, giving him the split-decision victory and making him the new WBO/WBA flyweight champion.
Shiming def Valenzuela UD4 Flyweights:
The main event was a spectacle with Zou Shiming entering the ring in style. It was said throughout the week that this could be the most watched boxing match the world has ever seen. Eleazar Valenzuela had only 4 pro fights with a record of 2-1-1 entering the fight, but he was qualified enough for Shiming to make his pro debut against. Nicknamed the spoiler, Valenzuela was looking to be just that and with the world watching he had the kind of stage to pull off a tremendous upset.
The 32 year old Shiming landed a quick right hand that sparked an enthusiastic applause from an otherwise silent crowd. That unemotional crowd cheered every punch he landed, and some he didn’t. They ate up everything Zou gave them and he was seen smiling at times in the contest, not in a taunting manner, but it seemed as though he was generally happy to be performing in front of the suddenly energetic crowd.
Valenzuela was not afraid to stand in front of Zou, but it didn’t really do him any favors other than landing some uninspiring punches. Still, Valenzuela ate some good shots and Zou landed plenty in the short sample size we were given.
Shiming was moving well and an athletically versed defense, although his punches were a bit too loopy for my taste. In the 3rd round, Zou hurt his opponent and both of his hands began to find their mark more and more. The 4th was the most exciting round of them all and possibly the most competitive, though that’s not saying much. The bell sounded to end the 4th and all 3 judges scored the fight 40-36 for Shiming.
I’ve seen better debuts in boxing but I’ve seen worse, it can’t be gauged whether or not Shiming will be the standout pro that so many are counting on him being, but he won and that is certainly enough for now.