Those who follow the little guys in this sport will know that Filipino Denver Cuello (33-5-6, 21) has had his career plagued by misfortune, it appeared that misfortune struck again in the biggest fight of his caree. After waiting several years for his first world title fight Cuello took on China's Xiong Zhao Zhong (21-4-1, 11) and appeared to suffer an injury early in the bout.
The bout started perfectly for Cuello who dropped Zhong in the opening round and seemed to to be on his way to an early victory. The following round saw Cuello possibly opening up a 3 point lead on the card but from then on Zhong took over coming forward relentlessly and landing shots with both hands.
Zhong's onslaught was helped in two ways. Firstly Cuello seemed to suffer an injury very early in the bout to his right hand, or arm, effectively rendering him a 1-armed fight. Without a right arm Cuello was limited to just throwing left hooks and uppercuts which were becoming very easy for Zhong to predict and avoid between his own attacks. Secondly Cuello was feeling annoyed by the tactics of the Chinese fighter who was using head and elbows.
Cuello managed to get a break of sorts in round 9 when Zhong was deducted a point for an accidental head clash (following the rules of the WBC) though Cuello himself was left bloodied by it and it seemed likely that the bout was going to be taken to the scorecards early.
After the Dr twice looked at the cut (and had also looked at the shoulder of Cuello) the bout was allowed to continue and suddenly Cuello seemed to refocus and box well, despite being one handed arguably claiming the final 2 rounds.
Despite what looked to have been a pretty easy so score bout the judges all had close cards (113-113, 115-112, 113-110) as Zhong managed to do, just enough their cards, to retain his title by majority decision, despite the announcer calling it a split.
I hope Cuello a quick recovery from his injuries. Unfortunately however it could be a case of several injuries. He certainly had a damaged shoulder late in the bout, possibly a occurrence of one suffered last year against Ivan Meneses, but I think there was also a hand injury as well. For Zhong, his physical strength could help him retain his title if matched well, in all honesty however I can't help but think he got lucky with the injury to Cuello, despite the scorecards not being as reflective of the result as they should have been.