Tomorrow morning on U.S. time, Top Rank returns to Macau for their second Zou Shiming-led event, a sequel to April's highly successful Fists of Gold event, which saw the two-time Chinese Olympic gold medalist make his pro debut in front of a big audience, as well as a terrific undercard fight that saw flyweight titles change hands.
Fists of Gold II is built much like the first event was: Shiming in the main event to make it a big card in China and keep momentum in the budding market, with some good, fairly significant fights on the undercard. In April, the show was a hit both financially and artistically, with several entertaining bouts up and down the card, from the opener on until the end.
Here's a quick look at what we'll see tomorrow morning. The show starts at 6 am EDT, with undercard bouts streaming on TopRank.com. BLH will have full live coverage.
Main Event, Flyweights, 6 Rounds: Zou Shiming (1-0, 0 KO) vs Jesus Ortega (3-1, 2 KO)
Mexico's Ortega says he's not coming to Macau just to roll over and lose, so that's a good attitude. Chances are he will lose, though, because that's what he's been brought in to do. Against fighters like this, Shiming simply has far too much high-level training and amateur experience. But we did see some holes in his pro debut in April, and if Ortega has scouted that fight extensively, I suppose there's the off chance that Zou could run into something.
Flyweights, 12 Rounds (WBA/WBO Titles): Juan Francisco Estrada (24-2, 18 KO) vs Milan Melindo (29-0, 12 KO)
There is a possibility that we'll see another top-rated flyweight taken down on the second straight Macau show. Estrada's upset of Brian Viloria in April shook up the division, and Melindo is no pushover. If he beats Estrada, it's a similar scenario. Estrada, though, is looking really good. He just plain outfought Viloria, and gave the very talented Roman Gonzalez a hell of a fight in November 2012, too. Melindo has some decent wins, but this would be the clear best victory of his career. This one is expected to be the Fight of the Night for action, too.
Featherweights, 12 Rounds (IBF Title): Evgeny Gradovich (16-0, 8 KO) vs Mauricio Javier Munoz (26-3, 12 KO)
Gradovich is also a new titleholder, as he upset Billy Dib in March on Friday Night Fights, ruining a big night for poor 50 Cent, who just can't catch a break. Gradovich was definitely fun to watch that night, but this is a vulnerable titlist, I believe. Munoz is no great shakes, but he gave Toshiaki Nishioka some good work before being stopped in 2011, and that version of Nishioka was a fair sight better than Gradovich, I think. But the Dib win may have inspired Gradovich to become better and better, too; success can breed further hunger sometimes. Gradovich is the favorite, but an upset is not entirely crazy.
Heavyweights, 10 Rounds: Andy Ruiz Jr (19-0, 13 KO) vs Joe Hanks (21-0, 14 KO)
Hanks, 30, is a 6'4" fighter out of Newark nicknamed "The Future," but if he's going to be the future of the division (which everyone wants to claim they are, basically), then he needs to get a move on. This is a fight where we'll see two guys tested for probably the first time. 23-year-old Ruiz, born in Mexico but fighting out of Imperial, Calif., figures to be the house favorite, as Top Rank has been promoting the jiggle monster for a while now. Ruiz is fat and there's no two ways about it, but he does have some talent, too. This is a pick'em, but I'd favor Ruiz.
Also on the card...
21-year-old Filipino prospect Genesis Servania (21-0, 8 KO) will face Japanese veteran Konosuke Tomiyama (23-5-1, 8 KO) in a 10-round super bantamweight bout. ... China's Rex Tso, a 26-year-old super flyweight, will also be in action. Tso (9-0, 6 KO) is coming off of a win over long-faded Wandee Singwancha, and will be facing Thailand's Rusalee Samor (20-4-2, 9 KO) in a six-round bout. ... Dave Penalosa (6-0, 4 KO) is another fighter on this card who was part of the first Fists of Gold event. The 22-year-old Filipino will take on Wisaruth Wor Khunkhiri, who is making his pro debut. The fight is scheduled for four rounds.