By Mark Butcher at ringside: Live updates and action from the ‘Champions Of Gold’ card from the Venetian Casino in Macao.
Chinese boxing hero Zou Shiming comprehensively outboxed and out-fought Colombian three-time world title challenger Luis De La Rosa to delight his excited fans at the Cotai Arena and the many millions of supporters watching at home across his native land.
The scorecards were 99-91 (twice) and 97-93 for Zou.
De La Rosa applied pressure in the first round, but a disciplined Zou boxed smartly, circling his foe and landing jabs and right hands from range.
Every Zou shot was cheered to the rafters of the Cotai Arena. The wild swings of De La Rosa that did land were greeted with mortified ‘ohs!’. But the Chinese boxing icon was sitting down on his punches and hitting with far more authority.
Encouraged by his success, Zou traded with De La Rosa in centre ring in the third and matched the Colombian for strength though he was giving his opponent a chance.
But the double Olympic champion from China started to boss the fight in the fourth. A sharp left-right combination rocked De La Rosa. Zou had also shaken off that habit of being caught square switching stances.
The Colombian chugged forward but his pressure was wild, ungainly. Blood streamed from his left eye, which the referee ruled as coming from an accidental headbutt. Irked by his losing position, De La Rosa threw a punch after the bell ended the fifth. He immediately bowed to the official in apology.
De La Rosa was warned and asked to keep his punches up in the sixth. Zou reverted to his boxing, using his greater skill and footwork to outwit his foe and win another round.
The two fighters traded at close quarters as if sharing a phone booth at the start of the seventh. A tear-up suited the Colombian more, but Zou fought on equal terms. His strength has improved dramatically in the last 12 months. Tape on Zou’s gloves came lose and provided both fighters with a respite from the action.
Zou boxed well in the eighth, utilising his superior speed, footwork and technique. Another round in the bank for the cameo star of Transformers 4. The dispirited Colombian was losing fight in the ninth as Zou showboated to his fans and picked him off at will. Zou, now 5-0 (1), controlled the last round but looked for a crowd-pleasing stoppage in the closing stages. It did not come, but it did not matter – Zou won on points and proved tonight he belongs at world level.
Star-in-the-making Gilberto Ramirez annihilated Australia’s Junior Talipeau in 1 minute 58 seconds of the first round.
The tall, rangy southpaw dominated from the outset catching the tough-talking Talipeau unawares and flooring him three times. From the first knockdown, Talipeau appeared utterly shellshocked by the Mexican’s range and power. He rose gingerly on very unsteady feet after being floored by a right uppercut.
Ramirez, now 29-0 (23), then hurt Talipeau with a hellacious right uppercut and then floored him moments later with the same clinical shot. The Australia-based New Zealander was dazed and confused.
A sharp left hand sent Talipeau, 20-3-1 (7), down again by the corner for a third time and referee Mark Nelson halted the one-sided encounter.
Ramirez added the WBO international crown to his NABF super-middleweight title. Highly-rated by all four major organisations, the Mexican is knocking on the door of a world title shot.
WBA Super and WBO super-bantamweight Gulliermo Rigondeaux breezed past overmatched Thai challenger Sod Looknongyangtoy in just 1 minute 44 seconds of the opening round.
On my first night in Macao, I spotted the Thai pointing ominously at a promotional poster of Rigondeaux – that was as close as he got to the great Cuban.
Looknongyangtoy, 63-3-1 (27), collapsed theatrically after an innocuous clash of heads in the opening moments which referee Mark Nelson ruled accidental.
On resumption, Rigondeaux, 14-0 (9), immediately nailed the Thai with a sharp right-left combination that sent the battle-wary challenger skidding to the canvas.
Sod beat the count but referee Nelson correctly waved it off – the Thai was looking for a way out not along after the opening bell. Looknongyangtoy protested angrily, but he was a challenger in name only. Rigondeaux rolls on to better things and hopefully unification matches with the rival champions who seem so keen to avoid him.
A clash of unbeaten junior middleweights saw ‘The Macao Kid’ Kuok Kun Ng prevail against New Zealand’s Beau O’Brien on the scorecards in a six-round contest.
Scores were 59-55 and 60-54 (twice) for Ng. The margins were a bit harsh on the New Zealander, now 4-1-1 (1), and did not reflect his contribution to the contest.
The duo engaged in a spirited opener and it was clear that Ng would not have everything his own way. Ng had some joy to the body in the second and his work carried the greater polish in the third and fourth against the useful New Zealander.
O’Brien reached a bit with the jab and continued to press but Ng boxed conservatively from range to preserve his apparent points lead before trading to please his many fans in closing seconds of the fight. Ng rises to 5-0 (2).
Ik Yang turned his junior welterweight eight-rounder into the barroom brawl he loves. The larger-than-life personality, originally from Dalian, China, but now based at the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles, menaced Thailand’s Rachamongkol Sor Pleonchit like a junkyard dog from the opening bell.
Yang, 16-0-0-1 (10), had a knockdown scored in his favour in the first but it seemed more of a cuff with a left hand while the lanky Thai was off-balance.
The Chinese fighter swung enthusiastically against his tall southpaw foe and eventually chopped him down after 1 min 40 seconds of the third. A clipping left hook poleaxed his Thai foe by the ropes and the referee wisely called a halt.
Hong Kong crowd-pleaser Rex Tso, now 14-0 (9), started slowly but eventually overwhelmed Indonesia’s John Bajawa in five rounds with a sustained body attack doing much of the damage in a bantamweight six-rounder.
The unbeaten southpaw, with his ready smile and propensity for engaging in thrill-a-minute wars, has become a huge favourite here in Macao, with many Hong Kong fans also travelling over by ferry to see their hero in action.
Tso, wearing blue stockings under his shorts, pressed the action but was often clipped on the counter and in mauls by the resolute Indonesian during a sluggish first two rounds. The third saw Tso make a considered attack on the body and suddenly Bajawa began to weaken. His hands dropped and the Hong Kong southpaw landed with increasing frequency.
A southpaw right hand badly hurt Bajawa, now 12-7 (6), as he was pinned in a corner in the fourth as Tso dominated. The ending was nigh and, as Bajawa was again trapped in a corner and unable to respond to a sustained barrage, the referee halted the contest after 48 seconds of the fifth.
A wicked left hook to the body saw three-time world champion Brian Viloria send underrated Mexican Jose Alfredo Zuniga, now 11-6-1 (5), down for the full count of the fifth round in a highly impressive performance.
Viloria’s greater technique and world championship nous saw him outfox the game Zuniga over the first three rounds of the scheduled flyweight 10-rounder. The fight heated up in the fourth with Perez trying to close the distance, but the quality always came from the ageless former champ, who rises to 34-4-0-2 (20).
A scything left hook cut Zuniga down in the fifth and he failed to beat referee Han Jian Ping’s count on one knee. Time was 1.42 seconds of round number five. For new father Viloria, the extra lie-ins that he was allowed by his wife Erica during training camp certainly paid off!
Filipino Mark Anthony Geraldo, 31-4-3 (14), was a little fortunate to defeat plucky Mexican Efrain Perez, 16-5 (11), who showed guts in abundance but non-existent head movement in a super-flyweight bout scheduled for eight rounds that was mistakenly ended after six rounds sparking scenes of confusion.
Scores were 58-54 (twice) and 57-55 for Geraldo. But the Filipino had tired badly in the face of intense Perez pressure and it’s arguable he may have succumbed in the last two (non-existent) rounds.
Geraldo just could not miss in the first three rounds. It was pure target practice, at times, as the static head of the Mexican rocked back time and again. A southpaw left rocked the bloodied Perez on his heels in the second. The same shot floored him heavily in third, but he rose bravely and the crowd at the Macao roared in approval.
Suddenly, the momentum shifted in the fourth with Perez pressing tirelessly and unbelievably Geraldo was uncomfortable and wincing at body shots. In the fifth, the Mexican continued to chug forward but he ate another hard left hand that steadied his progress. Geraldo then had a point taken off for persistent holding without receiving a warning that levelled that round. Perez’s pressure was wearing Geraldo down in the sixth – and the Filipino had absolutely no strength in his legs. Then came the bizarre end with the fight erroneously going to the scorecards when it had been scheduled for eight rounds. Hmm.
Russian light-heavyweight Egor Mekhontsev made easy work of Mike Merafuentes in the show opener winning after the Filipino did not answer the bell for the fourth round.
Merafuentes rushed in wildly in the first and his awkwardness made the looming Russian southpaw consider his work and pick the Filipino off on the way in. Mekhontsev worked the body in the second and the Filipino began to tire and back off when caught square by a hard right hand.
A culmination of pressure ended with a left hand in the third sent Merafuentes down by the ropes and, though he caught the Russian’s attention with a right hand, it was one-way traffic and the Filipino, now 2-1 (2), was wisely retired at the end of the third. Referee was Mark Nelson.
Talented former Olympic and World Amateur champion Mekhontsev, 4-0 (4), is now trained by Freddie Roach at the Wild Card Gym and appears destined for big things as a professional.