Weekend From Macau: Zou Improves But Still Leaves Questions

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The opening bout of the HBO telecast featured a Featherweight matchup between Evgeny Gradovich (17-0 8KOs) vs. Mauricio Javier Munoz (26-4 12KOs). Both fighters came out in the opening rounds very active and pressing the action. Although Gradovich won the earlier rounds with crisp and hard punches, Munoz didn’t seem to be affected by them. In round five the pace seemed to slow both fighters down a bit. In the eighth Munoz turned his attention to the body but Gradovich remained in control using his accuracy and speed to keep Munoz back. Gradovich and Munoz seemed very content at fighting in the center of the ring for the majority of the fight.  Both fighters continued to hit each other with solid shots that did little to back their opponent up. Gradovich came out in the 10th trying to stop Munoz using his jab and combinations but Munoz kept pressing forward, refusing to give up. Going into the championship rounds Gradovich had just a little more energy and began to walk Munoz down. Gradovich forced Munoz to fight backwards which he was having issues dealing with. In the final round Gradovich hit Munoz with a hard left hook that seemed to stop him in his tracks for a moment.  Gradovich kept walking Munoz to the ropes and forced him to exchange. Munoz was a very tough fighter but it wasn’t enough as Gradovich walked away with the unanimous decision win.

The second fight of the night was between the WBO and WBA Flyweight Champion Juan Francisco Estrada (25-2 18KOs) against undefeated Milan Melindo (29-1 12KOs). In the First round Estrada controlled the fight until the closing seconds when Melindo hit Estrada with a left hook that clearly affected the champion. Both fighters came out in the second round using good counter punching to battering their opponent. Estrada used his footwork and length to win the round. Melindo early in the third hit Estrada with hard shots that caused Estrada to once again retreat. Estrada regrouped and went back to boxing with good head movement to win the remainder of the round.  In the middle rounds Estrada was keeping good range but that didn’t stop Melindo from getting in some good shots to test Estrada’s chin. In the middle of the eighth round Estrada came forward and really started to press the action but Melindo closed the round with a flurry. Estrada began to out box Melindo slowing the pace of the fight. In the tenth the action picked up when towards the end of the round both fighters began to swing wildly in a heated exchange. Estrada in the 11th hit Melindo with a hard right hand that knocked him down to the canvas but as there was only seconds left he survived the round. Late in the final stanza Estrada tagged Melindo with a hard right cross followed by a left hook staggering him. Estrada tried to get the knock out but couldn’t put Melindo away. Melindo is a hard puncher and put up a great fight but he suffered his first professional loss as Estrada won by unanimous decision in his first title defense.

The headlining fight was between the pride of China and Olympian Zou Shiming (2-0) vs. Jesus Ortega (3-2 2KOs) in a 6 round bout.  Shiming came out patient and more accurate as Ortega seemed to be reaching with his punches. Ortega may have been getting outclassed but that didn’t stop him from hitting Shiming with a hard right hand towards the end of the 1st. In the middle of the second round both fighters fought inside exchanging hard shots. Shiming’s quickness was giving Ortega issues in the 3rd as he had Otrega back peddling. In the middle rounds both Shiming and Ortega began to brawl unleashing wide and hard punches on each other. Many times, both fighters stood toe to toe in a war of attrition. In the last round Ortega started with hard punches and confidence but Shiming kept moving forward. A lot of the round was fought on the inside but both fighters focused their attention to head shots. The 6th ended with both fighters once again engaging in a wild exchange. Ortega was supposed to have been a showcase opponent but he was proving to be quit a test for Shiming. Although Ortega put up a good fight, it was Shiming who walked away with the unanimous decision victory.

The fights in Macao, China at the Venetian Resort showcased many great fighters in boxing’s lower weight divisions and proved that even the little guys can put on a show.  Each fight was full of dramatics and was entertaining for all those who tuned in.