Before the big names take the ring in Macau, China, there's a decent string of fights on the undercard. A total of five undercard bouts will set the table for the Manny Pacquiao vs. Brandon Rios clash.
Here's a look at the card and the two most intriguing bouts set for the preliminary stage of the events.
Billy Dib Wants Revenge
Rios isn't the only fighter that trainer Robert Garcia has in action on Saturday night. Evgeny "The Russian Mexican" Gradovich (17-0, 8 KO) will defend his IBF featherweight title against Billy "The Kid" Dib (36-2, 21 KO), the man he dethroned in March.
The first bout was called a split decision, but from my vantage point, Gradovich deserved to win unanimously. At any rate, Dib will get another chance to prove he's the better man. Their first fight was a grinding and sometimes sloppy affair, but Gradovich outworked Dib for the decision.
Since then, both men have won decisions to set up the rematch. Gradovich successfully defended his title against Mauricio Javier Munoz, and Dib knocked off Mike Oliver. This should be another tough battle with tons of in-fighting.
Gradovich is 27 years old, though he's still very young in his career. In every fight I've seen from him, he has improved. He doesn't have explosive power, but he's tough and accurate on the inside. Still, because of his age, it is possible he's reached the apex of his potential.
Dib is a bit of an underachiever. He's been tabbed as an up-and-coming fighter on a few occasions only to be knocked off his pedestal for one reason or another. He's still a tough out, but it remains to be seen whether he has enough to take the next step in his career.
Zou Shiming on the Not-So-Fast Track to Title
Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach will be hoping Shiming can begin the night on a winning note for fighters in his stable. The two-time Chinese Olympic gold medalist will have his third professional fight on Saturday. He won a four-round decision over Eleazar Valenzuela in April. In July, the 32-year-old defeated Jesus Ortega in a six-round bout in July. Now he will face Juan Tozcano in another six-round affair.
Because Shiming has spent so much time in the amateurs, he has to crank up the pace and the competition if he plans on fighting for any part of the flyweight title before he's 35. There is no questioning his boxing acumen, but he must get accustomed to fighting extended rounds against professionals.
Tozcano has only had four fights himself, but he obviously doesn't have the amateur pedigree Shiming does. This should be another slick boxing exhibition for Shiming in front of his countrymen. It'll be at least three or four fights before he's in with an opponent who can challenge him.
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