China’s Zou makes successful debut

By James Goyder  /  Contributing reporter

Mon, Apr 08, 2013 - Page 19

Zou Shiming’s professional debut was eagerly anticipated and the Chinese boxer sent the fans home happy in Macau with a comfortable win over Mexican Eleazar Valenzuela in the main event of “Fists of Gold.”

The show was the first Top Rank Promotions has held on Chinese territory and, although there were two world title fights on the card, the event was built around Zou, a two-time world champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist during his amateur days.

Before turning pro, the 31-year-old was known for his hit and run style, but was clearly under instructions to take a more entertaining approach.

Valenzuela simply could not live with his speed and movement, and the only disappointment for promoter Bob Arum, as he looks to move into the Chinese market, was that Zou seemed to lack the punching power to stop the Mexican.

There will be tougher tests to come for Zou, but he was happy to have got his professional career off to a successful start,

“This is my first time in professional boxing, so it’s a new experience. It was only a four-rounder, but as a rookie that’s how to get started and hopefully I will go from four rounds to six to eight, and then onto the championships,” Zou said.

“I would like to thank Top Rank and The Venetian for putting me on such a big stage for my professional debut and hopefully I delivered,” he said.

Meanwhile, Filipino-Hawaiian Brian Viloria was a strong favorite to defend his WBA and WBO flyweight belts against Juan Francisco Estrada and controlled the first half of the contest. However, Estrada came to life in round six, pressing forward and forcing the champ to fight at close quarters.

That set the pattern for the rest of the fight as Estrada applied relentless pressure to Viloria, who slowly faded in the face of the onslaught.

Viloria was badly hurt in the final round, but his dominance in the first half of the fight meant that a change of champion was far from a foregone conclusion as the final bell rang. Estrada’s aggression and workrate was ultimately enough to win him the fight on the scorecards of Michael Pernick and Francisco Martinez, with Levi Martinez the sole dissenting voice.

Estrada’s first title defense will be against mandatory challenger Milan Melindo, who blasted through Indonesia’s Tommy Seran earlier in the night.

The other world title fight, between Diego Magdaleno and Roman Martinez, also ended in a split decision, with the Puerto Rican somewhat fortunate to retain his WBO super featherweight title.

The decisive moment came in the fourth round when the defending champion landed a one-two combination with the right hand connecting cleanly and knocking Magdaleno down.

There was an upset in the previous fight when Yasutaka Ishimoto claimed Wilfredo Vazquez Jr’s WBO international super bantamweight title courtesy of a majority decision.