As a resident of Las Vegas, which regularly draws some of the best names in his sport, junior lightweight boxer Diego Magdaleno figured that the biggest fight of his career would take place in the gambling city.
But it turns out that the 26-year-old contender will challenge Puerto Rico’s WBO 130-pound beltholder Roman “Rocky” Martinez (26-1-2, 16 knockouts) as part of a blockbuster card promoted by Top Rank CEO Bob Arum that will happen on April 6 at the Venetian Macao Resort Hotel in Macau, which, like Hong Kong, is a “special administrative region” of China located on the coast of the South China Sea.
“Who would have thought that it would be in China?” said Magdaleno (23-0, 9 KOs), THE RING’s No. 5-rated junior lightweight who will be after his third straight stoppage victory against Martinez, who is 30.
“That’s the first thing that I thought. I knew that we were looking at Rocky, but China? That would have been the last thing that I would have thought.”
Martinez-Magdaleno will be part of a card headlined by flyweight beltholder Brian Viloria (32-3, 19 KOs), who will defend his WBA and WBO titles against former 108-pound title challenger Juan Francisco Estrada (22-2, 18 KOs).
Junior flyweight Zou Shiming, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and three-time world amateur champion from China, will make his professional debut on the show.
Martinez is coming off last month’s disputed 12-round split-draw with Mexico’s Juan Carlos Burgos (30-1-1, 20 KOs) that took place at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
“It’s a big trip, and it will be a great experience to be there. This is completely out my element. I’ve never been overseas before, so it will definitely be different. It’s a big shock,” said Magdaleno.
“But I’m going to be focused on the number one thing, which is all I’m thinking about. And what I’m thinking about is my plan of attack and exactly how I’m going to beat Martinez and bring that title back home where it belongs.”
Viloria, who is 32, is coming off November’s Fight-of-The-Year caliber 10th-round stoppage of then-WBA beltholder Hernan “Tyson” Marquez, whom he floored three times on the way to unifying the 112-pound crowns for the first time in nearly 50 years.
Hard-hitting Estrada, 22, challenged undefeated 108-pound beltholder Roman Gonzalez in the co-feature to Viloria-Marquez, dropping a competitive and thrilling unanimous decision to the talented Nicaraguan.
A 31-year-old boxer who is among China’s most popular Olympic athletes, Zou is considered the world’s greatest amateur junior flyweight, having captured gold medals in the World Amateur Championships in 2005, 2007 and 2011, and gold medals in the 2008 and 2012 summer Olympic Games.
Zou also earned an Olympic bronze medal in 2004, making him his nation’s first Olympic medalist in boxing as well as its first boxing gold medalist in the World Amateur Championships and the Olympics.
“Ever since I’ve lived here in Vegas, and I’ve made Vegas my home,” said Magdaleno. “I’m focused, and I’m not into the whole nightlife thing. I know what I have going for me, and I’m ready. But this still is shocking, and I’m still trying to process everything.”
Photo by Chris Farina, Top Rank
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com