HBO Preview: Shiming vs. Ortega, Estrada vs. Melindo, Gradovich vs. Munoz


By: William Holmes

Zou Shiming is a highly decorated amateur and carries the weight of a nation on his shoulders. His popularity is high for a relative newbie that HBO has decided to televise, even though he fights in China.

Macau, China, is quickly becoming a competitive destination to Las Vegas for high profile fights. Not only has this city drawn Shiming twice, but it has also drawn Manny Pacquiao to stage his next Pay-Per-View fight there.

In addition to the second professional fight of Zou Shiming, HBO will also be showing a featherweight title fight between Evgeny Gradovich and Mauricio Munoz as well as a flyweight title fight between Juan Francisco Estrada and Milan Melindo.

The following is a preview of the televised bouts for Saturday’s card.

Juan Francisco Estrada (24-2) vs. Milan Melindo (29-0); WBO/WBA Flyweight Title

Melindo is a young, undefeated, Filipino boxer that looks to reverse the recent losing streak of Filipino boxers on national television. Melindo, however, has a very tough opponent in front of him.

Melindo is two years older than Estrada, but he gives up two inches in both reach and height to Estrada. Melindo has spent the majority of his career fighting in the Philippines, and has only fought outside of it twice.

Melindo only has twelve stoppages in his professional career, but he has stopped four of his past five opponents. He started off fighting in the minimum weight division, but has been competing in the flyweight division since 2010.

He has defeated the likes of Tommy Seran, Jean Piero Perez, Carlos Tamara, and Jose Guadalupe Martinez. It’s tough to gauge how good Melindo is, since most of his opponents are not well known.

Estrada has considerably more power than Melindo. He has stopped eighteen of his opponents and destroyed Brian Viloria the last time he fought.

Not much was known about Estrada when he fought Viloria, but he looked very strong inside the ring and he put a hurting on a fighter that many thought he would lose to. He has lost to Roman Gonzalez and Juan Carlos Sanchez Jr., and besides Viloria, he hasn’t faced and beaten any recognizable competition.

Estrada showed how good he really was in his last fight, but if this fight goes to the judges’ scorecards he will be at a big disadvantage. It is very common for judges in Asia to support the Asian fighter.

Evgeny Gradovich (16-0) vs. Mauricio Munoz (26-3-1); IBF Featherweight Title

Gradovich is the current IBF Featherweight Champion, and he won that belt when he surprised many by defeating Billy Dib by split decision in March of this year. He’s a technically sound boxer that’s been refined by world renowned trainer Robert Garcia.

He’ll be slightly taller than Munoz inside the ring but will also be giving up one-inch reach. Neither Munoz or Gradovich have notable knockout power. Munoz has twelve stoppages on his record while Gradovich has eight.

Gradovich showed he can take a punch when he fought Dib and displayed a great ability to apply pressure. Before Dib, however, Gradovich had fought subpar competition, but when he was given the chance to fight for a title he took advantage of it.

Munoz has spent most of his career fighting in Argentina. The only time he ever fought in Asia he was knocked out by Toshiaki Nishioka at the World Memorial Hall in Japan. He’s defeated some decent boxers such as Luis Franco, Roman Contreras, and Luis Armando Juarez, but his record does not indicate he deserves a title shot.

Gradovich should outbox and defeat Munoz on Saturday night. Bigger and more riskier paydays await Gradovich if he can retain his title on Saturday.

Zou Shiming (1-0) vs. Jesus Ortega (3-1); Flyweights

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Trainer Freddie Roach confers with Zou Shiming

Zou Shiming is the most accomplished amateur boxer to ever come out of China. He won the bronze medal in the 2004 Oympics and the Gold Medal in the 2008 Olympics. As an amateur he beat quality opponents such as Rau’shee Warren.

He is trained by Freddie Roach and he will have the entire arena strongly behind him. He’s only had one professional fight, a points victory over the clearly overmatched Eleazar Valenzuela in April of this year.

Shiming, however, did not look like a future world champion when he defeated Valenzuela. He got hit way too often against a fighter with limited amateur experience. and he often fought with his hands down despite not showing a sound defensive game. His punches were often wide and were lacking in power.

Luckily for Shiming, he’ll be in the ring with a fighter who’s expected to lose.

Ortega has two stoppages on his record and his combined opponent record is 1-3. None of the boxers he has beaten have had a victory inside the ring. The one man he fought who had a win on his record he lost to.

Quite simply, Ortega is outmatched and is being used as a tune up on national television for Shiming.

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