BY: MATTHEW J. HUNTER
The weekend of April 15th seemed like a slow week for the sport of boxing. No major Matchroom, PBC, Golden Boy or US Top Rank show. However, Queensberry Promotions had a significant heavyweight title contender fight that ended in dramatic upset fashion. Los Angeles had several cards from 360 Promotions, the new Fight City Promotions, and MarvNation Promotions.
Joe Joyce had been on a tear through the division as of late. Beating tough opponents like Bermane Stiverne, Bryant Jennings, Daniel Dubois, Carlos Takam, and Joseph Parker. He amassed a 15-0 record with 14 wins by KO and unified champion Oleksandr Usyk was calling him out in particular after the Tyson Fury negotiations fell through. Unfortunately for him, Chinese sensation Zhilei Zhang ended all of that momentum with a 6th-round TKO. Zhang's notorious cardio issue that lead to him losing against Filip Hrgovic and getting a draw with Jerry Forest either wasn't on display or didn't have time to show itself again.
He battered Joyce from the opening bell with his straight left hand and quickly closed the eye of the fellow Olympian. Joyce had nonexistent head movement and was seemingly befuddled on how to counter the rather simple offense of Zhang. Will China get its fourth world champion if Usyk decides to fight Zhang? Probably not. But Zhang's size, power, and southpaw stance might be enough to shock the world. Something China has been recently doing over and over again.
Also important to keep an eye on the potential for further growth of combat sports in China. The country only recently in the 1990s came back into the sport of boxing after the 1953 Tianjin death of a Chinese boxer, which led to a sport ban. Deng Xiaoping and the PRC during the reforms of the 1970s-1990s decided that China should engage in international competitions, including boxing. Muhammad Ali in 1979 would go to China to meet with Deng and other Chinese leaders on the sport. Took some time for the infrastructure of the sport to materialize. 2004 onwards we've seen a slow but steady wave of Chinese combat sports figures: Zou Shiming, Xiong Zhao Zhong, Xu Can (the only Chinese world boxing champions in history), Zhang Xiaoping, Ma Yiming, Ik Yang, Zhang Junlong. Plus MMA fighters like Weili Zhang (former UFC champion), Song Yadong, Tang Kai, Xie Wei, Jingliang Li, and more. According to purchasing power index, China is the biggest economy in the world and wants to be a major entertainment industry with sports and film. Expect to see more Chinese boxing stars in the future.
TITO MERCADO ICES HANK LUNDY
Ernesto "Tito" Mercado has a rough patch as of late in getting major attention for his promising talent. Being stuck on smaller shows for a variety of reasons can stifle a fighter's career. His dad however decided to start his own promotion company to finally get him the right step-up fight, Hank Lundy. Lundy was trying to get the Adrien Broner fight and that whole drama led to nothing but led Lundy back to Mercado as a sacrificial lamb. The fight didn't last long as Mercado swarmed Lundy and finished him with a sharp hook to finally stop the fight. He's called out Gervonta Davis, Ryan Garcia, and Rolly Romero. All three will rightfully ignore him. Mercado desperately needs to get on a big promotion in order to capitalize on whatever potential he has. The reality is the sport has 4-6 major promotions that own most of the proverbial real estate. They have the largest rosters of elite fighters, the have network access, they have bigger venue access, they have the overall capital that Mercado's dad and honestly all small regional promotions don't and can't have due to the nature of centralization and monopolies under capitalism.
LA Rivalry: Omar Trinidad vs Adan Ochoa
On Friday, Tom Loeffler's 360 Promotions had a Los Angeles grudge match finally get answered. Omar Trinidad from Boyle Heights and Fundamentals 19 Gym has been undefeated and collecting heads. Nine KOs out of 12 wins and a notorious reputation in LA as a mean and aggressive fighter. Everything you want in a prospect. Adan Ochoa from Maywood Boxing Gym has been close a couple of times to getting over the competition hump so to speak.
He lost to a then-undefeated Adam Lopez in his third fight, lost on Top Rank/ESPN during the Bubble against Eddie Vasquez, and then a no-contest against Adam Lopez in a rematch on Top Rank/ESPN again. This sadly may have been the last time we see him given this opportunity due to the cruel nature of the industry. He had an excellent game plan against the swarmer Trinidad, stay on the outside, keep moving, work off the jab, and look to counter Trinidad's often reckless aggression. However, it just wasn't enough. The fight was back and forth but Trinidad was just too much. He landed the better shots, more shots, and never stopped coming forward. The fight felt as if Ochoa was constantly trying to escape quicksand only to continuously be pulled under its weight.
Also on the card MMA legend Anderson Silva's son, Gabriel Silva made his pro-debut. It was a rather poor showing from Silva who was hurt in the fight and saved from a majority draw due to his opponent being deducted a point due to pushing the ref. The children of combat sport legends usually don't pan out so I wouldn't expect much from Gabriel Silva. Osvaldo Lopez vs Jose Gomez was a tentative fight that ended in a draw. If "Ozzy" Lopez had been a little bit more
active he would have won the fight. Gloria Munguilla defeated Nikkia Williams in a fun back-and-forth fight via majority decision. Cain Sandoval vs Jose Angulo was an even-matched fight until Sandoval hurt and stopped Angulo in the 5th round. Umar Dzambekov destroyed Nathan Sharp to get a 3rd round KO. The crowd was especially electric on Friday night for the Trinidad-Ochoa card. Perhaps a sign that these cross-town grudge matches are the best main events for regional promoters. Make sure to check back in next weekend for my new weekly boxing column. Also can check out my work on Patreon.com/TrendingNowNetwork
The views expressed in this column are wholly and entirely of the author and do not reflect the views of TheBeautyOfBoxing.com