Report and photos by Dennis Principe
From banners, flyers, LED advertising & tickets, all you will see is the image of two-time Olympic gold winner Zou Shiming as promoters try to push him to become the face of China’s professional boxing in Saturday night’s “Fists of Gold” boxing card at the Venetian Hotel in Macau.
“Unbelievable,” was the only reply of one international promoter when told Zou will reportedly earn $300,000 for his pro debut set for four rounds.
But don’t tell that to promoter Bob Arum, perhaps the man with gold in his fists as only he can pay tons of money and gamble on a fighter set to turn pro at age 32.
“No gamble at all because it is being supported by the Venetian. We’re showing it on television all over the world. It’s going to be a great attendance and everybody’s very, very happy,” said Arum “Remember, he is the reason why we are all here. He is the young man that’s going to lead the charge and make boxing a major sport in China.”
Freddie Roach, who has mastered not only the art of training fighters but also the knack for selling fights, has declared that his newest pupil will be a world champion in less than a year.
“He’s the big star in China. This will be his first and last four rounder, I think he’ll go six or eight next. He’s bringing in the crowd and he sells tickets. That’s how main events should be,” said Roach.
For his initial flyweight outing, Zou will be facing Mexican Eleazar Valenzuela whose pro record is 2-1-2, with 1 KO.
Meantime, the fighter who is eager to prove his worth as a true main eventer does not mind playing second fiddle to Zou in Macau.
32-year-old Brian Viloria said all he is thinking right now is how to beat Mexican Juan Francisco Estrada as the Hawaiian Punch stakes his World Boxing Association (WBA) and World Boxing Organization (WBO) flyweight belts in their 12-round encounter.
“This is a big stage to share. But I’m taking this opportunity to steal the show maybe. But a stage like this, I always welcome it. It’s better than parking lots,” said Viloria.
After losing to Mexican Edgar Sosa in an attempt to reclaim his WBC lightflyweight tiara, Viloria fought at promotional cards held at swap meets and plazas in Los Angeles and Mexico in working his way back to the top.
“A couple of years ago everybody said I was done. But after putting up these wins and streaks against these great tough Mexican fighters, I thank God I stuck to this sport because I didn’t see myself fighting in this kind of stage late in my career,” said Viloria.
Part of the card is number one contender Milan Melindo of the Philippines, already the mandatory challenger of the same WBO flyweight crown currently held by Viloria.
“I’m willing to fight anybody. It’s all up to my manager,” said Melindo who stood far away from the main table where the main protagonists were seated during Thursday’s press conference.
The 25-year-old Melindo (28-0, 11 KO’s) will battle Tommy Seran (23-1, 14 KO’s) of Indonesia in a 10-round non-title tiff.
Another world title bout will be featured when WBO superfeatherweight kingpin Roman Martinez defends his crown against undefeated American southpaw Diego Magdaleno.
Penalosa brothers Dave and Dodie Boy, Jr. will open the show as they battle Cheroenchai Sithsaithong and Ngaotawan Sithsaithong, respectively.
The two are sons of Dodie Boy, Sr., Philippine boxing’s first ever two-division world champion when he captured the IBF lightflyweight belt in 1983 and IBF flyweight crown in 1987.