By Jake Donovan
Absent of shock value, trash talk and exaggerated stunts to help promote its event, it was a jovial and controversy-free affair during the final pre-fight conference ahead of Manny Pacquiao's welterweight title defense versus unbeaten Chris Algieri.
The press event, held Wednesday evening in Macau, captured the spirit of the main event fighters, both of whom are known as class acts. Pacquiao and Algieri addressed the media without degrading each other, not feeling the need to go over the top to help the event, which happens Sunday morning locally, but Saturday evening stateside as it headlines on HBO Pay-Per-View.
The undercard fighters were all appreciative of the opportunity to fight on the show and in a location as picturesque as the Venetian Macao. Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum apologized in advance for his anticipated butchering of several Thai fighters gracing the show, one of which who could pass as a Pacquiao stunt double.
"I had to do a double take," Arum noted when introducing Kwanpitchit Onesongchaigym, who faces two-time Olympic Gold medalist Zou Shiming in the evening's co-feature. "Here you have the Thai version of Manny Pacquiao (in terms of looks), facing Zou Shiming, who is trained by Manny's trainer Freddie Roach.
"It will be interesting to see Freddie's face when he looks across the ring and sees a familiar face in the other corner."
The flyweight bout will serve as a final eliminator. The winner will be in line to face Juan Francisco Estrada, a unified flyweight titlist whose reign began with an upset win over Brian Viloria in Top Rank's first show in Macau last April.
Also on the premier show came the debut of Shiming, the most celebrated amateur boxer in the history of China. The diminutive flyweight earned three Olympic medals for his homeland, including a pair of Gold medals, the first of which came in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Following his second consecutive Gold medal win in the 2012 London Olympics, Shiming announced his intention to turn pro, which came last Aprii in Macau, where his entire pro career has taken place thus far. The 33-year old has quickly elevated from four rounds to now fighting in a 12-round eliminator just 19 months into his pro career.
With a win, Shiming will prepare for a showdown with Estrada. Also looming in the flyweight division is the World lineal champ and one of the very best in the world in Róman Gonzalez. Needless to say, there is no shortage of talent for Shiming at the top level, which he insists is what he has always preferred.
For now, he's content with surrounding himself with the very best.
"It's an honor to fight on the undercard of Manny Pacquiao," Shiming (5-0, 1KO) stated to the assembled media on hand. "I've always wanted to face the very best fighters in the world. Manny Pacquiao is the very best in the world and now I'm facing his lookalike."