Diego Magdaleno to fight in China
Updated: February 8, 2013, 6:08 PM ET
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com
Twice before Las Vegas junior lightweight contender Diego Magdaleno thought he was going to get a world title shot only to see it fall by the wayside. But on Friday he finally snagged the opportunity he has long been waiting for.
Magdaleno signed to challenge 130-pound titlist Roman "Rocky" Martinez of Puerto Rico on April 6 at the Venetian Macao Resort Hotel in Macau, China, Top Rank chairman Bob Arum told ESPN.com.
The fight is part of Top Rank's entrance into the Chinese market, made possible by its recent signing of junior flyweight Zou Shiming, 31, the Chinese star who won three Olympic medals (gold in 2012 and 2008 and bronze in 2004).
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While Shiming will make his pro debut in the main event in a four-rounder against an opponent to be determined, Top Rank has put together a top-flight card to go along with his fight, including two world title bouts: Martinez-Magdaleno and flyweight titleholder Brian Viloria (32-3, 19 KOs), a Filipino-American from Hawaii, making his fourth defense when he faces Mexico's Juan Francisco Estrada (22-2, 18 KOs).
"I've wanted to get Diego a shot at a world title, that's been the plan all along," Arum said. "So first he was going to fight the Japanese guy (Takahiro Ao) but then he took a fight against Gamaliel Diaz (in October) and lost and now Diaz is fighting somebody else in Japan, so I couldn't get him. Then we tried to get (titleholder Juan Carlos) Salgado."
That fight could not be made either, Arum said, because of conflicting television network and sponsor deals between Top Rank and Salgado's promoter in Mexico, where Salgado is from.
"And then Rocky Martinez, who we co-promote with Peter Rivera from Puerto Rico, was there and we wanted him to fight Magdaleno," Arum said. "But he had a mandatory due against (Juan Carlos) Burgos."
Top Rank put on that fight on its HBO tripleheader in New York on Jan. 19 and Martinez (26-1-2, 16 KOs), 30, escaped with an unpopular draw.
"Thank God we got a draw and not a loss and so we went to Martinez to see if he would fight Magdaleno," Arum said. "He said he would fight him, but he didn't want to fight him in Las Vegas and Magdaleno wasn't thrilled about fighting him in Puerto Rico. So you can't get more of a neutral place to fight than Macau."
Magdaleno (23-0, 9 KOs), a 26-year-old southpaw, was extremely excited about getting the fight.
"It's been a long time coming," he told ESPN.com shortly after signing. "I've been promised a title shot a couple of times and they went downhill. Now this contract is here and in place. I look back to my amateur days -- this is what I've been working so hard for. Now I can really go after what's mine. I'm ready to get to the gym right now even though I have a couple of more hours until I'm supposed to be there.
"I've never been overseas before. It's going to be awesome. A new experience. I was kind of mentally preparing myself to maybe go fight him in Puerto Rico. Now that it's on fair ground it's anyone's game. Everything will be said and done in the ring."
Magdaleno has not fought since August, when he crushed Antonio Davis in four rounds. Magdaleno was supposed to fight on Dec. 7 in Las Vegas, but a badly bruised left wrist forced him out of the fight.
"This is the longest I've been out of the ring in my career but now everything is good and I am very excited for this fight," he said.
Said Top Rank vice president Carl Moretti, "There's a time for all fighters to step up. This is Diego's time to just do that. When the tide goes out, you get to see who is swimming naked."
Magdaleno said he has been watching Martinez and believes he knows how to fight him. Magdaleno was ringside when Martinez won a vacant belt by split decision in a slugfest against Miguel Beltran Jr. in September in Las Vegas on the Sergio Martinez-Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. undercard. He also watched Martinez's draw with Burgos, which, like many, Magdaleno thought Burgos clearly won.
"I was a little bit worried after the fight that they would have to have a mandatory rematch," Magdaleno said. "I was thinking, 'How much longer am I going to have to wait?' That was worrying me, but now I am so happy to have this fight. Martinez is very durable. He comes to fight and put that pressure on you and fight inside.
"When I was watching the fight with Beltran, I was looking at both of those guys like they could be my possible opponent. I was studying Martinez in that fight and looking for openings and I saw a lot of them. I saw them against Burgos too. I'm doing my research. I feel I can get this guy. Not only can I beat him but take him out, stop him."
Other featured bouts on the card include former junior featherweight titlist Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. (22-2-1, 19 KOs) of Puerto Rico against Japan's Yasutako Ishimoto (20-6, 4 KOs) in a scheduled 12-round bout and junior middleweight contender Vanes Martirosyan (32-0-1, 20 KOs) of Glendale, Calif., who recently rejected a title elimination rematch of a draw with Erislandy Lara, facing Javier Francisco Maciel (24-2, 17 KOs) of Argentina in a scheduled 10-rounder.
"This card will probably be the most watched professional boxing card in history because of Zou Shiming, who is huge in China," Arum said. "I think we'll have upwards of 400 million homes in China watching this fight. We're putting on a really good card on a huge stage."
The card will air live in China in prime time and Arum said he is looking for an American television partner.
"We will get something," he said. "We're not asking for much money at all.
We want exposure for these great fights. I've offered it to HBO to run on HBO2 of HBO Latino. We're open to anything."