By Carlos Costa
International Referee Jack Reiss of Oxnard Beach, California, will be the third man in charge of the action when Russian IBF Featherweight World Champion Evgeny Gradovich makes his first title defense against IBF #1 Featherweight Mauricio Javier Muñoz of Argentina this coming Saturday July 27 at The Venetian® Cotai Arena™ in Macau, China.
The announcement was confirmed by Lindsey E. Tucker, IBF Championships Chairman. The all-American panel of judges are: Mrs. Adalaide Byrd of Las Vegas NV, Mike Ancona of Ohio and Jerome P. Jakubco of Evanston, Illinois.
The 26 year-old world champion Evgeny Gradovich (16-0, 8 KOs), born and raised in Igrim, Siberia, signed last year with Top Rank and moved to Oxnard to train with the current Trainer of the Year Roberto Garcia. The jovial Gradovich is nicknamed by his stablemates as "The Mexican Russian," for his aggressive fighting style and fluency in Español.
Last March, Gradovich showed up as a replacement in the main event on ESPN Friday Night Fights and defeated the defending world champion, capturing the IBF Featherweight world crown.
His rumble against Muñoz will be his first world title defense.
Meanwhile, the challenger Mauricio Javier Muñoz (26-3, 12 KOs) of San Juan, Argentina, is the current IBF Latino Featherweight Champion. Nicknamed by his fellow countrymen as "Chucky," Muñoz will have his second shot at a world belt.
Two years ago, the 27 year-old Muñoz (26-3, 12 KOs) lost in devastating fashion to the fists of then Japanese WBC Super Bantamweight world champ Toshiaki Nishioka. Since that tough night in Kobe, Japan, the motivated Muñoz has scored back to back wins and captured his regional belt.
Both, Gradovich and Muñoz, are orthodox warriors standing at 5' 7". Their match is one of the two world title fights on the line in this weekends's Macau card billed as "ZOU SHIMING: Fists of Gold II."
The other one is the defense of hard-hitting Mexican WBA/WBO Flyweight champ Juan Francisco "Gallo" Estrada from undefeated Milan Melindo of the Philippines.
In the headliner, Chinese 2-time Olympic gold medalist and 3-time Amateur World Champion Zou Shiming gets back into action to battle unheralded Jesús "Jibarito" Ortega (3-1, 2 KOs) of Sonora, Mexico.
"ZOU SHIMING: Fists of Gold II" this Saturday July 27 at The Venetian® Macau's Cotai Arena™ is promoted by Top Rank Inc. and Sands China Ltd., in association with Tecate and aired on HBO and TV Azteca.