By Ronnie Nathanielsz
WBC Silver minimumweight champion and mandatory challenger Denver Cuello made the 105 pound limit with no problem at the official weigh-in held Thursday night (Manila Time) at the Moevenpick Hotel Battuta in Dubai.
The hard-hitting Filipino southpaw who was two pounds over the limit a day earlier tipped the scales at 103.8 pounds while champion Xiong Zhao Zhong of China who is making his first title defense came in exactly at 105 pounds before a huge crowd of fight fans eager to watch the first world title fight at the World Trade Center in Dubai.
The fight is scheduled to take place on Saturday morning Manila Time
Senior Reporter Alaric Gomes of Guly News quoted the 27 year old Cuello who said “I am here to win tis belt. I know the odds will be heavily in favor of the world champion but I will give it my best.
Cuello earned the right to fight for the WBC belt with a crushing 2nd round knockout of highly touted Mexican Ganigan Lopez in a scheduled 12-round WBC Silver title bout which served as a title eliminator held last May in Mexico but he knows he faces a tough battle against the smallest champion in the world who is under five feet.
Zhong appeared unfazed by the height and reach advantage of Cuello or his reputation as a devastating puncher. Zhong said “I’m feeling good. I’m confident of winning. I’ve been in training since arriving in Dubai last week. I am feeling good and I think I am in a good position to defend my crown.”
The champion believes that his superior speed would be a key element that could spell the difference against Cuelo. He told Gulf News “The initial rounds will witness some good boxing. I’ve put in a lot of effort to be where I am at the moment and I am feeling good physically and mentally.”
As China’s first world champion in a breakthrough WBC title fight in Kunming, China last November, Zhong is being closely followed by a growing number of Chinese boxing fans as the popularity of the sport grows. Zhong won the vacant title with a comfortable twelve round decision over Mexico’s Javier Martinez Rezendiz after Cuello’s manager granted the plea of WBC president Don Jose Sulaiman to have Cuello step aside so the WBC could make inroads into the vast Chinese market.
Cuello was paid a step aside fee of $25,000.
Zhong has a record of 20-4-1 with 11 knockouts while Cuello boasts of a record of 33-4-6 with 21 knockouts.
The fight which Sulaiman claims is a historic event and should be a classic is being staged by KO Promotions headed by Zach Taumafi who expects a sell-out crowd of 3,000.
Well known South African boxing writer Ron Jackson reports that “because of his lack of height Zhong tends to keep coming forward to fight on the inside. It should therefore be an excellent fight between two boxers with brilliant hand-speed and good defense. Cuello’s reach could be the deciding factor. “