by Kieran Mulvaney
Almost by definition, HBO Boxing is constantly on the road, broadcasting one week from Las Vegas, the following weekend from Dallas, the Saturday after that from Atlantic City. Over the next several weeks, though, it is visiting locations rarely if ever touched on before.
On April 27, HBO World Championship Boxing comes from Buenos Aires, Argentina when Sergio Martinez defends his middleweight title against Martin Murray. Two weeks before that, Jim Lampley and colleagues will be calling the action when Nonito Donaire clashes with Guillermo Rigondeaux in New York City: in itself, hardly a novel location, but the venue, Radio City Music Hall, has only once before hosted a professional prizefight, when Roy Jones Jr. walked to the ring with the Rockettes before dominating David Telesco in 2000.
Before all that happens, though, a true precedent will be set – and one with potential ramifications for the future – when HBO2 airs a Saturday afternoon card from Macau, China. The card, which is headlined by the professional debut of China’s own Olympic boxing sensation Zou Shiming, raises plenty of questions, both inside and outside the ring:
Will Shiming Be Shining?
Junior flyweight Shiming is something of an amateur superstar, having medaled at three consecutive Olympics, including gold medals in Beijing in 2008 and London last year. He’s clearly accomplished, but at age 31, can the junior flyweight make a successful transition to the professional ranks? There is some precedent in the form of Rigondeaux, who was just shy of 29 when he turned pro but, because of his wealth of in-ring experience, was challenging for a title belt in just his seventh outing.
However good Shiming may or may not be, it’s unlikely we’ll learn much from his pro debut against Eleazar Valenzuela, who enters the ring with a record of 2-1-2. But, according to Dan Rafael of ESPN.com, that doesn’t matter one bit.
“Any time you have a fighter making a pro debut, the goal is to make him look good,” says Rafael. “The idea is he’s going to put on a show for his people. Potentially, it could have an audience of millions over there.”