By James Goyder
In the main event of Top Rank's 'Fists of Gold' show at the Cotai Arena in Macau, Zou Shiming easily overcame Eleazar Valenzuela to send the Chinese fight fans home happy. Shiming, who was making his professional debut, couldn't get the KO but showcased some of the defensive ability which made him a two time world amateur champion and a two-time Olympic gold medalist. The 31 year old was known in his amateur days for a hit and run style, but he was clearly under instructions to take a more entertaining approach and started off very confidently, with his hands by his waist and a broad grin on his face.
Valenzuela could not live with his opponent's speed and movement and the only disappointment for Top Rank's Bob Arum, as he looks to move into the Chinese market, was that Shiming seemed to lack the punching power to ever put the Mexican in serious trouble. With the win, his first as a pro, Shiming moves up to 1-0 while Valenzuela's record drops to 2-2-2.
The rest of the card contained some action packed encounters and a couple of surprise results. Brian Viloria was a strong favorite against Juan Francisco Estrada and looked firmly in control during the first half of the fight. After Viloria's back and forth war with Hernan Marquez this was a comparatively quiet affair but it came to life in round six as Estrada started to press forward, fighting at close quarters and banging away to Viloria's body.
This set the pattern for the second half of the fight as Estrada applied relentless pressure to Viloria who slowly faded in the face of a relentless onslaught from the Mexican. Estrada's right uppercut was his most effective weapon and was there for him all night, snapping Viloria's head upwards again and and again.
In the 12th round Estrada seemed to have Viloria hurt, the champion looked to be on wobbly legs and backed up but regained his composure in time to make it to the final bell. Viloria's dominance in the early round made it a nervous wait for Estrada but his strong finish to the fight was enough to win him the fight on the scorecards of Michael Pernick (111-116) and Francisco Martinez (111-117) with Levi Martinez (115-113) the sole dissenting voice.
With the win Estrada improves to 23-2 and he picks up the WBO and WBA flyweight titles. His first defence will be against mandatory challenger Milan Melindo, the Filipino blasted through Indonesian Tommy Seran in four rounds and promoter Bob Arum announced his intention to hold that fight on the next Top Rank Card in Macau - which is tentatively set for late July or early August.
The other world title fight between mandatory challenger Diego Magdaleno, and WBO super featherweight champion Roman Martinez, also ended in a split decision with the Puerto Rican somewhat fortunate to leave Macau with his WBO super featherweight title intact. The decisive moment cam in the fourth round when the defending champion landed a one-two combination with the right hand connecting cleanly and knocking Magdaleno down.
Buoyed by his success Martinez continued to stalk forwards but Magdaleno was circling away, staying out of trouble and landing some effective counters of his own. At the start of the 12th, Magdaleno, presumably sensing he was behind on the scorecards, abandoned his previous strategy and started to attack with a sense of urgency but it proved to be too little too late with the judges scoring the fight 115-112 for Martinez, 116-111 for Magdaleno and 114-113 to Martinez.
There was an upset in the previous fight when Yasutaka Ishimoto claimed the WBO international super bantamweight title at the expense of reigning champion Wilfredo Vazquez Jr, courtesy of a majority decision. Vazquez Jr started strong, using the jab as a range finder and looking to line up power punches with his right hand but Ishimoto kept pressing forward and ripping away with hooks to the body.
The Japanese fighter's superior work rate quickly became the story of the fight and the turning point arrived in virtually the last second of the eighth round when Ishimoto scored a flash knockdown. Vazquez Jr. was not badly hurt but he handed the initiative to Ishimoto who kept pressing forward right up until the end of the fight and was rewarded for his persistence with a majority decision win with scores of 95-95, 96-93, 95-94.
UNDERCARD RESULTS BY JAKE DONOVAN
Milan Melindo exuded patience and subtle punching power in flattening Tommy Seran in the fourth round of their scheduled 10-round flyweight bout.
Primarily a boxer, Melindo sought to impress the Macau crowd with a rare power punching display. Knockdowns came in each of the first two rounds, but the Filipino contender was also forced to contend with a cut atop the bridge of his nose.
The wound wouldn't at all prove to be a factor. Melindo sought closure and gained it in a big way, putting Seran down and out at 2:38 of round four.
Melindo improves to 28-0 (11KO) with the win as he continues to climb the ranks. Seran falls to 23-2 (14KO), snapping a 15-fight win streak dating back to 2008.
Dodie Boy Penalosa Jr has a long way to go before living up to the standards of his father and former two-division champ Dodie Boy Penalosa Sr. Until then, all he can do is continue to wow audiences with his all-out action style, as was evidenced in climbing off the canvas to drop and stop Nimithra Sithsaisong (nee Chumpon Phrombanphot) in the third round of their super bantamweight preliminary bout.
An early night was suggested, but Penalosa Jr was caught off guard when his leaky defense allowed two straight rights and a left hook to slip through and put him on the deck in the opening round. The sequence awoke the Filipino southpaw, who proceeded to light up Sithsaisong. Knockdowns followed in rounds two and three, including a savage right hook to the body to put Sithsaisong down and out at 2:54 of round three.
Penalosa Jr. continues to roll, now 11-0 (11KO). Sithsaisong dips below .500 for the first time in his career as he heads back to Thailand with his record now at 4-5 (3KO).
Paul Fleming made the most of his road trip, impressing in just his second fight outside of his native Australia in stopping Japan's Ryusie Yoshida in the fourth round of their super featherweight bout.
Fleming made his presence felt early in the bout, applying constant pressure and opening up a cut over Yoshida's left eye. The injury proved significant, as Yoshida was never truly able to recover.
Time was called in round four, allowing the ringside doctor to examine the now badly cut and swollen left eye. Yoshida was given a chance to continue, but continued power punches from Fleming eventually forced the stoppage at 1:07 of round four.
Fleming continues to look like a prospect to watch. The Aussie improves to 18-0 (13KO), with both fights outside of his homeland ending in knockout. Yoshida has now lost three straight as he falls to 22-6 (10KO).
In the evening's curtain raiser, Dave Penalosa scored a 2nd round knockout of Cheroenchai Sithsaithong (4-4, 3KO; formerly known as Chaloembun Patang).
Penalosa (6-0, 4KO) struck early, scoring a knockdown in the opening round before finishing off the Thai with a body shot early in the second to force the stoppage. The official time was 0:29 of round two.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, Yahoo Boxing Ratings Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox