Zou Shiming’s second professional fight was the main event of “Fists of Gold II” in Macau on Saturday night and the Chinese flyweight put in a much more entertaining performance to win a six-round fight against unheralded Mexican Jesus Ortega.
The expectations for the former amateur world champion are intense and he gave the Chinese fans in attendance at the Cotai Arena something to cheer about by employing a much more aggressive approach than we saw when he made his professional debut earlier this year.
It made for some exciting exchanges as Ortega, who seemed determined to make the most of his unexpected opportunity, stood his ground and took Shiming’s hardest shots, but was ultimately no match for the best amateur in the history of Chinese boxing.
Shiming was awarded the win by unanimous decision and improves to 2-0, but speaking after the fight, the 32 year old was typically humble.
“I’m pleased with the win, but my goal is to become a new champion and I know there are many new challenges I need to face, but I will work even harder toward that goal,” he said.
His trainer, Freddie Roach, was a little more emphatic in praise of his protege’s second professional outing and believes that he showed significant signs of improvement.
“He did a lot better than the last time out, it’s his second pro fight and I’m very proud of him. Everything has to come quicker [because] he is a two-time gold medalist and everyone knows that. It’s difficult to find 112 pounders who want to fight him,” Roach said.
The Hall of Fame trainer did have some criticism and is looking forward to working with Shiming in the Philippines in preparation for his third professional fight, which is set for Macau on Nov. 24.
“He stayed in front of him a little too much. I would have liked to see him land combinations and get out of the pocket, but the training camp with Manny Pacquiao will be a big lesson to Shiming, he’s going to see what it takes to be a world champion when he’s in camp with us,” Roach said
The co-main event featured Juan Francisco Estrada, who caused a major upset by beating Brian Viloria at the inaugural “Fists of Gold” show, and was making the first defense of the two titles he won that night against undefeated Filipino Milan Melindo.
Melindo took to his task methodically and seemed to be getting the better of some close early rounds as Estrada was extremely conservative in his punch output. The turning point arrived in the 11th, when the Filipino was put down for the count by a short cross that connected clean.
Estrada came on very strong in the final stanza and very nearly scored another knockdown, when Melindo’s knee was perilously close to touching the canvas. The Mexican finished the round in dominant fashion with his opponent visibly hurt, but still bobbing and weaving enough to stay out of trouble until the bell.
Melindo’s early superiority made for some suspense as the scorecards were being compiled, but the judges all voted emphatically for Estrada, seeing it 118-109, 117-109 and 118-109 in favor of the Mexican retaining his WBO flyweight and WBA Super World flyweight belts.
Billed as “The Russian Mexican,” Evgeny Gradovich inflicted a brutal one-sided beatdown on Mauricio Munoz, who was dominated from start to finish and had no answer for the relentless combinations of his tireless opponent.
By the end of the fight, Munoz’s face was bruised and swollen as the Argentine fought bravely, but was comprehensively outclassed by Gradovich, who kept firing away with crisp combinations that more often than not found their target.
The only thing missing for Gradovich was the finish. He was able to drive Munoz back against the ropes a few times, but the resilient Argentine refused to go down. The scorecard reflected the Russian’s superiority as he retained his IBF featherweight belt by margins of 119-109,119-109 and 120-108.
Earlier in the night, Andy Ruiz Jr defeated Joe Hanks in a battle of undefeated heavyweights, scoring two knockdowns in the fourth round to successfully defend his WBO intercontinental title.
Top Rank’s next card at the Cotai Arena sees Manny Pacquaio take on Brandon Rios on Nov. 24 in an eagerly awaited welterweight matchup that will be the Filipino’s first fight on Asian soil since 2006.