Action from China: Viloria Beaten, Shiming Wins Debut

By Matt McGrain on April 6, 2013
Action from China: Viloria Beaten, Shiming Wins Debut
China seemed little more than a tempest in an oriental teacup. (Chris Farina/Top Rank)

Zou Shiming, making his pro debut, was admirably relaxed as he was sung, danced and deliriously cheered to the ring…

Professional boxing swaggered then staggered onto the Chinese island of Macau today showcasing two world championship fights and a bizarre four-round main event marking the professional debut of two-time Olympic gold medalist Zou Shiming in front of a television audience measured in the hundreds of millions—which was rudely interrupted by satellite issues. Watched (for a couple of rounds anyway) by what is likely to proven the largest audience in boxing’s television history, Shiming, rather lucky to be a two-time light-flyweight Olympic gold medalist behind some borderline officiating in London, was admirably relaxed as he was sung, danced and deliriously cheered to the ring. Around ten thousand turned out to see him make his debut for which he was paid a supposed $300,000.

His opponent was paid what is likely to remain a lifetime best $15,000, and Eleazer Valenzuela boxed like it, swallowing the hard punches fired out by Shiming, who seemed to prefer single punches in what was an admittedly varied offense. Moving quickly in a wide circle, the Chinaman showed fast hands and feet but seems to have brought with him from the amateurs a propensity to slip, as he sprawled onto the canvas for no apparent reason in the final minute of the round.

In the second it appeared he had also brought with him a weakness that is harder to shake off, a dearth of power. He landed repeated and flush punches at great speed, ostensibly hard in appearance, but showing little affect upon his Mexican opponent. Still, he countered well through the second and third with a strange and looping overhand right and a more pointed left. 

Satellite problems mean the details of the fourth round are lost to us for the moment, but a unanimous decision four to nil is the unsurprising result. As far as what we have seen, what have we learned? Not much. The Chinese is not a puncher and not likely to become one, and as a light-flyweight in his early thirties it may be the case that there is very little about him which will improve, at least physically. A lot has been said this week, not least that Shiming was handling Viloria in sparring and that within a year, he will be boxing for a world title. That won’t happen, and if it does he will get badly beaten. 

Basically what we expected on all fronts: more steak than sizzle, though the bad luck in losing a worldwide satellite beaming pictures to hundreds of millions is really rather unique and would be tragic if it weren’t for the involvement of Bob Arum…

Fortunately this was preceded by a stacked undercard that proved deeply satisfying, including the introduction to the global stage of Japanese super-bantamweight Yasutaka Ishimoto, moving to 22-6, a fighter we can expect to see more of after he sat Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. on his trunks in the eighth round to take an entertaining majority decision.

Chief support opened with Transnational Boxing Board #4 junior lightweight Roman Martinez and the #10 ranked unbeaten American prospect Diego Magdaleno. The fight was a fascinating and absorbing one, if no barnburner, Magdaleno persistently out-speeding the stronger Martinez but catching leather whenever he took the liberty of standing still. Despite the tidy and responsible footwork shown by both, Magdaleno’s right handed jab seemed to cancel out the opposite punch in Martinez, making the trailing hands the crucial aspect in the fight. Martinez seemed more accurate with this punch but Magdaleno was working on his variety, slowing finding ways to introduce his right for a more rounded offense. 

Magdaleno’s problems were summarized in two rounds, the fourth where a snapping one two dropped him for a flash, and the seventh, which he lost by virtue of the fact that not much happened; any quiet round would be won by Martinez by virtue of his superior strength but Magdaleno couldn’t just remain busy because he could be timed and dropped. The fascinating balance endured right to the final bell which saw Magdaleno swarming all over a tired looking Martinez, who lost the fight 114-113 on my card, despite a strong finish that saw him take the 10th and 11th.

The American judges disagreed with me although they were reasonably split, seeing it 115-112, 111-116, 114-113 for Martinez (now 27-1-2), who keeps his strap. Magdaleno dropped to 23-1, but his overall performance was impressive enough that he may hold his ranking.

Next up was the wonderful Brian Viloria (#10 on the TBR pound-for-pound list) and Juan Francisco Estrada, ranked #10 at light-flyweight, who so impressed in his narrow but clear loss to Roman Gonzalez. Estrada pursued here a more conservative approach than he had against Gonzalez, throwing fewer punches and moving more frequently, though keeping less distance. It was a good strategy in the sense that Viloria does not to tend to wait for his turn in the way Gonzalez can be guilty of, he will look to slip, parry and counter.

Viloria demonstrated this twice in the opening round with hurtful left hooks, but the warning was sounded early for the “Hawaiian Punch” who was made to look rather slow of foot in the same way Gonzalez was. Viloria seemed to be having a very close look at his man in the second as Estrada, out of Sonora, Mexico, boxed beautifully, foraging in and out as Viloria flurried his way to the round. In the third he appeared to take control, hurting Estrada to the body, but in the fourth the Mexican introduced in earnest his key punch, a right uppercut, that in combination with body punching won him the round even if Viloria, at that point, did not appear to be concerned. When Estrada then won the next, Viloria appeared to change up, twice baiting his man onto hard right hands in the sixth, adopting a trapsmith’s role against a younger, faster fighter. It carried him the seventh, but in the eighth it was Estrada who made the big change, doing the unthinkable and coming inside, bumping right up against the shorter Viloria and aggressively attacking. He firmly out-sped the suddenly fragile looking Filipino, dialing in that right-handed uppercut over and over again to body and head. 

In the ninth, the world below 112 lbs. turned on its axis as it looked for a moment like Viloria might go. Surviving the round but devoid of any new ideas, Viloria was forced out of the pocket in the tenth and rocked to his socks by a steaming Estrada right hand, looking less and less like the fighter supposedly lacking in power.

Having cut Viloria to the left eye, Estrada added the left uppercut in the eleventh to keep Viloria firmly under control, leaving as the only meaningful question now was whether or not the pound-for-pounder could make the final bell; he did so, but barely, almost certainly unable to complete another round.

China seemed at first a fuss about very little, a tempest in an oriental teacup, but Estrada’s victory represents an enormous upset. Apart from the obviously delighted Mexican, now in possession of a shiny new strap, a handy negotiating chip if nothing else, the big winner here is Gonzalez who has somehow come by the top name fighter he needed almost by proxy. Viloria is a scalp.

A Gonzalez-Estrada rematch seems likely.

It probably won’t be fought in China, but you never know. For better or worse, there’s a new player in boxing’s global village.

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

Brian Viloria vs Juan Francisco Estrada

Zou Shiming vs Eleazar Valenzuela Fight 1 Round 06-04-2013 Macau

Zou Shiming vs Eleazar Valenzuela Fight 2 Round 06-04-2013 Macau

Zou Shiming vs Eleazar Valenzuela FULL FIGHT 06-04-2013 Macau [highlights from 3 & 4 rounds]

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  1. Robert Ecksel 09:59am, 04/08/2013

    I found the whole Shiming thing embarrassingly Pavlovian. Arum rang his bell—and the barking commenced. Talk about the tail wagging the dog.

  2. Matt McGrain 09:32am, 04/08/2013

    Pete, Irish; agree.  It’s said that Shiming found two-minute rounds vastly preferable to three, even in the ams.  Speaks its own truth, something like that.

  3. Matt McGrain 09:31am, 04/08/2013

    Normally I would defend him after a single pro-fight, but in fact the way they are talking about him makes that a perfectly reasonable summary, Clarence.  Arum as made a rod for his back.

  4. Clarence George 08:21am, 04/08/2013

    Initial reaction to Shiming:  Overhyped and will float like a lead balloon.

  5. Pete The Sneak 04:51am, 04/08/2013

    Yeah, that Viloria-Estrada fight was indeed a barnburner…Good stuff man…Estrada is an exciting/tough young fighter. This was a pretty damn good boxing card: and to have Larry/George and Tim Ryan calling those fights, well, made my nostalgia cup runneth over. Peace.

  6. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 03:49pm, 04/07/2013

    Memo to bubala Bob: Be careful that you don’t end up with Egg Foo Yong on your face because Valenzuela was in the fight for the whole four rounds and Fists of Gold had a bad case of happy feet….two more and things could have gotten really interesting,

  7. Matt McGrain 10:56am, 04/07/2013

    Yep, Mag will have out-landed him pretty heavily I have to think.  But as I said in the above, I think that any time he tries to rest/stand and trade, he’s losing that minute of that round.  Conundrum.  But he did enough for me, defo.

  8. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 10:10am, 04/07/2013

    Matt McGrain-Which reminds me….the thing that impressed me the most about Estrada was that he seemed to be so dadgummed strong….period!

  9. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat saijo aka Gimpel 10:03am, 04/07/2013

    Matt McGrain-Great report! Heck yea….Diego did enough to win.. I’m curious about the punch stats…..which I saw as lop sided in favor of Magdaleno….could be wrong though!

  10. Matt Mosley 02:51pm, 04/06/2013

    To be honest i didn’t see the fight between Gonzalez and Estrada. i was just going off what i read in some quarters about it being debatable.
    I heard it was at least competitive though and certainly one of the better fights of last year.
    Gonzalez must be as good as he is touted to be considering he beat a guy like Estrada.
    I have read a bit about RG but i didn’t tend to pay all that much attention to the lighter weights, below, say, bantamweight.
    Watching guys like these will make me change my mind about that in the future.
    BTW, what an excellent card that was in Macau, from top to bottom.
    Nice to hear Larry and George back on commentary too i thought.

  11. Matt McGrain 01:23pm, 04/06/2013

    Yeah, i’ll buy what you selling there Mosley, I agree with all of that…although I didn’t see the Gonzalez fight that arguable personally—what impressed me most about today was that when Viloria changed up a bit, Estrada just came inside to counter.  Marquez couldn’t come inside with Viloria.  But he came inside and just beat the hell out of him.  Faster, stronger.  Really impressive.  Hopefully the rematch happens @ fly, Gonzalez needs to come north I think.

  12. Matt Mosley 01:04pm, 04/06/2013

    The Viloria-Estrada fight was one of the best so far this year.
    Estrada looks like a very good fighter to me. He’s only 22 and he’s already beaten the best flyweight in Viloria and pushed the best light-flyweight hard to a debatable decision in Roman Gonzalez, in his last two fights in a row.
    I like his solid technique and accurate combination punching.
    He’s also pretty relentless and has proven his toughness against the highest level of competition.
    One to watch for the future for sure.
    Hopefully he gets the rematch with Gonzalez soon. I’ll be looking forward to that one.

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