Filipino strawweight contender Denver Cuello continued on his seemingly never-ending road to a world title shot this past Saturday as he scored a 10-round unanimous decision victory over Ivan Meneses at the Auditorio del Bicentenario in Morelia, Michoacán de Ocampo, Mexico. The scores were 98-90 on two cards, while a third had it 96-92.
The victory wasn’t without its speed bumps, as Cuello (32-4-6, 21 knockouts) had to overcome a cut on his right eyebrow from a first round clash of heads, and then a possibly injured left shoulder in the third round that probably spared Meneses (18-11-1, 10 KOs) his fifth defeat by knockout.
“I’m happy I won but at the third round I (had) a lump on my right hand,” said Cuello, who is rated no. 4 by THE RING. “But I won the fight.”
“I’m happy that Denver lasted to the last round, the first and last round (he) still (had the) same stamina,” said Aljoe Jaro, Cuello’s trainer and manager.
Jaro, who previously guided Sonny Boy Jaro and Florante Condes to world titles, says Cuello will have his shoulder X-rayed when they arrive back in Manila on Wednesday but doesn’t think the injuries will keep him out of action long.
The 25-year-old Cuello, of Iloilo City, Philippines, is now set to face the winner of China’s Xiong Zhao Zhong (19-4-1, 11 KOs) and Mexico City’s Javier Martinez (13-3-2, 6 KOs), who will meet October 27 in Kunming, China for the vacant WBC strawweight title.
Despite being rated no. 1 by the WBC at 105 pounds after winning a “final” eliminator in May by knocking out Ganigan Lopez in Mexico in just two rounds, the WBC asked Cuello to step aside so the unrated Zhong could fight the no. 4 rated Martinez. This despite Martinez having beaten no one of note and predominantly facing opponents with losing records in his last five bouts since losing to Jesus Silvestre.
Zhong’s resume’ is even less defensible. The 29-year-old from Wenshan, China lost to 12-5 Shin Ono in an eight-round fight this past April and rebounded with a win over Osvaldo Razon. The WBC is the only sanctioning body recognized in China, and with China having the largest population of any world nation, the Mexico-based organization seems eager to crown their first Chinese champion.
Jaro says that Cuello and he will be at ringside for the Zhong-Martinez fight to get a close look at their opposition.
When asked to make a pick, Jaro said: “Maybe the Chinese guy. The Chinese is no good, the Mexican is no good also. But the WBC wants the Chinese to win because China has a big market.”
Ryan Songalia is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) and contributes to GMA News. He is also a member of The Ring ratings panel and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. An archive of his work can be found at www.ryansongalia.com. Follow him on Twitter: @RyanSongalia.
You can vote for Songalia in the Outstanding Filipino Americans of NY Awards media/publishing category via Facebook: http://bit.ly/VOTE4RYAN