By Alexey Sukachev
Xiong Zhao Zhong (21-4-1, 11KOs) retained his WBC minumweight title with a twelve round majority decision over mandatory chllenger Denver Cuello (33-5-6, 21KOs) at the World Trade Centre in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The scores were 113-113, 115-112 and 113-110. Cuello and his team wanted it so badly, but when it came to the fight - Denver "The Excitement" Cuello of Philippines failed to show up at his very best against the WBC champion.
WBC/WBO #1 rated strawweight Cuello has been hunting WBC champions down for about three or four years. The Filipino hot-shot won his last twelve (ten wins inside the distance) since his dubious DQ 3 loss to solid Mexican contender Juan Hernanadez in May 2010. Prior to that setback, Cuello had been riding an even better four-year long unbeaten series, filled with some quality wins.
Oppositely, the champion hasn't been taken seriously lately. Many thought Zhong acquired a piece of the world lightest title thanks to his ethnicity and not his skills, becoming the first ever Chinese fighter to win one of the four major belts, albeit against very soft opponent and doing nothing to justify his title shot at the very first place.
This time Zhong, who once pushed then-WBC flyweight champion Daisuke Naito to the very limit, was strong and determined. The more skilled challenger was better in the first half of the fight but the Chinese champion refused to let Cuello collect the title. During the fight, southpaw Cuello injured his right hand and was thus forced to avoid jabbing and using his guard at its full capacity.
What was even worse, Cuello started to lean forward, producing numerous accidental (actually, not that accidental) headbutts down the stretch. One of these headbutts resulted in a bad gash on the right side of his face. Feeling the blood, Zhong finished the fight both calmly enough to avoid dangers from the hard-hitting challenger, and active enough to gain a close win, in a fight many considered him to be a significant underdog coming in.
Cuello, being just 26, will likely get another shot at the world title in the near future.