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The long wait for a world title opportunity ended in agony for Denver Cuello as he lost to defending WBC minimumweight champion Xiong Zhao Zhong via majority decision in Dubai.
A judge scored it as a draw at 113-113 while the other two scored it 113-110 and 115-112 for Zhong, who retained the title he won from Javier Martin Resendiz last November.
After scoring a knockdown in the first round, Cuello struggled to put his punches together and was using only his left hand.
According to GMA News' Sports Correspondent Chino Trinidad, this was because of a torn rotator cuff that was misdiagnosed earlier. Trinidad added that Cuello is due for an operation next week.
In the eighth round, the ringside doctor checked Cuello’s injured shoulder but he deemed the fighter fit to continue. Cuello barely threw any punches in that round, handing it easily to the defending champion.
Two clashes of heads halted the action in the ninth round with Cuello receiving most of the damage. Zhong was deducted a point but Cuello’s right eye was badly damaged.
Sensing that he needed a knockout to salvage a win or even just a draw, Cuello fought toe-to-toe with Zhong in the final three rounds even if he still could not use his right hand.
Cuello had some pop in his left hand that could hurt Zhong, but because it was his only weapon throughout the fight, he could not throw strong punches.
Although Cuello landed the better blows, it was Zhong who stayed more active to seal the win and his first title defense.
After defeating Ganigan Lopez back in May of 2012, Cuello was already in line for a WBC world title opportunity. However, he was paid a step-aside fee which enabled the Mexico-based boxing organization to hold a title match in China to crown the country’s first ever world boxing champion.
Zhong raised his record to 21 wins against four losses and a draw. Cuello on the other hand drops down to 33 wins with five losses and six draws. — Carlo Pamintuan/ELR, GMA News