HBO2 will air the April 6 pro debut of Chinese junior flyweight Zou Shiming, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and three-time world amateur champion, from Macao in China, the network announced on Thursday.
The event, billed as “Fists of Gold,” will also feature flyweight beltholder Brian Viloria (32-3, 19 knockouts), who will defend his WBA and WBO titles against Juan Francisco Estrada (22-2, 18 KOs), and junior lightweight titleholder Roman “Rocky” Martinez (26-1-2, 16 KOs), who defends his WBO belt against Diego Magdaleno (23-0, 9 KOs).
Both title bouts will be part of the HBO2 broadcast, which will start at 2 p.m. ET/PT and feature the commentary of Tim Ryan, Larry Merchant and two-time heavyweight champion George Foreman from ringside from the CotaiArena’s Venetian Macao-Resort-Hotel.
“We are delighted that HBO recognizes, as we do, the historic nature of the Macao event and is making it available on a same-day basis to its subscribers on HBO2,” said Bob Arum, CEO of Top Rank, the event’s promoter.
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. With his later victories he also became its first boxing gold medalist in the World Amateur Championships and the Olympics.
“When introducing a new product to the biggest market in the world, we are thrilled that the biggest brands associated with boxing joins us,” said Todd duBoef, president of Top Rank.
“HBO is the gold standard for the sport, and we are honored to have their support and commitment to expanding the boxing brand.”
Viloria 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.
The hard-hitting Estrada 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 solid boxer, Magdaleno has worn down and eventually stopped his past two opponents, Fernando Beltran and Antonio Davis, in the seventh and fourth rounds, respectively.
“This is an exciting boxing initiative,” said Kery Davis, senior vice president, programming, HBO Sports, “and we’re delighted to be the U.S. television home for this international event.”
Photo by Chris Farina, Top Rank
Photo by German Villasenor, Top Rank
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com