YOU can run, but you can’t hide. At least not when it is Denver “The Excitement” Cuello who is breathing down your neck.
Like a plague with gloves, Cuello has been the most feared fighter in the minimumweight division (105 pounds) the last few years. So feared is Cuello that when he was on the verge of receiving a title shot, World Boxing Council (WBC) minimumweight champion Kazuto Ioka of Japan chose to vacate the throne on June 30 and relocate to a higher weight class. Call it an act of self-preservation on the part of Ioka.
There is valid reason to fear Cuello, the 25-year-old pride of Cabatuan, Iloilo. After a rocky start that saw him lose his first pro fight to Pit Inakaya in August 2004, Cuello has been on an absolute tear lately. He has won his last 11 fights, 10 by knockout. Cuello has not tasted defeat since May 2010, when he was disqualified in the third round against Mexican Juan Hernandez. Cuello had knocked down Hernandez when he was disqualified for allegedly throwing a belated, illegal blow.
On Saturday, Cuello continued with his winning ways by hacking out a 10-round unanimous decision win over Ivan Meneses. Fighting in Meneses’ turf in Morelia, Mexico, Cuello dropped his foe in the opening round but had to rely on his boxing skills for the remainder of the fight after injuring his shoulder in the third stanza.
“Ginawa namin ang lahat para manalo. Sa third round injured na tayo pero nagawa pa rin nating ipanalo. At tsaka sobrang laki ang kalaban (We did everything to win. In the third round we were injured but we found a way to win. And the opponent was just too big),” Aljoe Jaro, Cuello’s manager and promoter, told Spin.ph.
The win over Meneses improved Cuello’s record to 32-4 with 21 knockouts. According to Jaro, Cuello will take the time available to recover from the injury before mounting a formal assault at the WBC minimumweight championship.
Ranked No.1 by the WBC in his weight class, Cuello will challenge whoever wins the showdown between Mexican Javier Martinez Resendiz and Chinese Xiong Zhao Zhong for the vacant WBC minimumweight title on October 27 in Kunming, China. Zhong, 19-4 with 11 knockouts, is bidding to become the first Chinese world boxing champion and no less than 600 million Chinese fans are expected to tune in to the bout. The 29-year-old Zhong, who stands a mere 4’11,” is heavily favored to prevail against the relatively inexperienced Resendiz, who totes a record of 13-3 with only six knockouts.
Imagine a scenario where Zhong beats Resendiz and makes his first defense against Cuello. It will be China versus the Philippines. Heck, the title fight might as well be staged in the disputed Scarborough shoal.
Jaro couldn’t care less who wins between Zhong and Resendiz. Team Cuello is focused on bringing home the WBC belt, regardless of who ends up defending it next year. “Waiting na lang tayo kung sino mananalo sa China vs. Mexico. Wala na silang kawala sa atin. Dapat nga tayo na ang lalaban sa vacant title kaya lang nakiusap ang WBC sa akin na mag step-aside muna kami (We are just waiting who will win between China vs. Mexico. They can’t run away from us anymore. We should be the one fighting for the vacant title but the WBC requested us to step-aside),” said Jaro.
Jaro has big plans for Cuello. In the event Denver collars the WBC minimumweight crown, he will move up in weight and gun for the head of Nicaraguan knockout artist Roman Gonzalez, the incumbent World Boxing Association light flyweight (108 pounds) champion. Gonzalez, 32-0 with 27 knockouts, is one of the most exciting little men in the sport today, a trigger-happy slugger who has been knocking out foes with his dreaded left hook.
“Yun (Cuello vs. Gonzalez) talaga ang plano namin. Pero gusto ko muna maging champion si Denver sa WBC’s 105-division tapos aakyat kami sa 108 pounds. At si Roman ang target namin dahil malaking laban ito sa smaller weight division (That is really our plan, but I want Denver to be a champion first in the WBC’s 105-pound division then we will move up to 108 pounds. Roman is our target because that will be a very big fight in the smaller weight division),” said Jaro.
For now, Cuello will just have to be patient and stay in shape. A shot at the world title is imminent and there is no telling how far the guy can go considering his fistic skills. The sky may not even be the limit for Denver.