Jiawei Zhang (CHI) produced a career best performance in Guiyang, China on Friday night to defeat Alberto Melian (ARG) in an incredible AIBA Pro Boxing (APB) Cycle I Round 2 Bantamweight (56 kg) match.
Zhang’s victory has earned him a guaranteed APB title match with Bantamweight Champion Khedafi Djelkhir (FRA), and also a qualification quota for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
There was no love lost between the two fighters at the weigh-in, and the tension continued in the opening stages of their contest as both world class athletes circled each other with much intent.
Melian had beaten Zhang in a previous APB match, yet this time Zhang was sharp from the outset, and used blistering combinations to devastating effect against his South American rival.
The low and crouching stance of Melian was designed to exploit any hesitancy in the attacks of Zhang, but Zhang was composed and accurate in his punch output, which frustrated the Argentine.
Cheered on by a rapturous home crowd in China, Zhang’s left hook was a significant difference maker in the middle rounds, as Melian was unable to produce any meaningful shots of his own.
Both men had clearly trained extraordinarily hard for this crucial bout with so much at stake, and there was few backward steps taken by either boxer at any stage.
Zhang’s dazzling repertoire of shots continued to impress the judges and his supporters, with the decibel levels rising as each round neared its completion.
The Chinese athlete had never been past six rounds in his career, but produced his best work of the fight in the seventh round to once again display his tremendous conditioning.
Melian rallied in the eighth and final frame, but his effort was not enough to create a significant difference, and he lost the match on all three scorecards.
An emotional and delighted Zhang threw his gloves into the crowd following the end of proceedings, which led to even more support and appreciation from the loyal fans who had supported him so magnificently.
Another absorbing Bantamweight bout featured on the undercard in China, where Sangmyeong Ham (KOR) outpointed Hakan Erseker (GER).
Ham carried a clear power advantage against Erseker, and was a deserved winner according to all three judges.
- Sangmyeong HAM P. (77:75/79:73/77:75) vs Hakan ERSEKER
- Jiawei ZHANG W.P. (79:73/77:75/78:74) vs Alberto MELIAN