This Saturday night, as part of Top Rank’s historic first boxing promotion in China, at the Venetian Casino & Resort in Macao that will showcase the debut of dual Olympic champion Zou Shiming and two world title fights, the eyes of Australian fans will be focused on the appearance of super featherweight Paul ‘Showtime’ Fleming (17-0, 12 KOs), who will appear on the undercard against Japan’s Ryusei Yoshida (22-5, 10 KOs).
Fleming, a 2008 Olympian in the featherweight division, has progressed steadily since his debut in November 2008. In his last encounter in the ring, Fleming defeated former world title challenger, Filipino Balweg Bangoyan via 8 round unanimous decision, to improve his record to an impressive 17 wins from 17 fights, with 12 wins inside the distance.
Saturday’s bout with Yoshida will be Fleming’s first bout overseas since his Top Rank debut performance in July 2011 where he fought Juan Jose Beltran on the undercard of the Brandon Rios – Urbano Antillon main event at the Home Depot Centre, Carson, California, USA.
Speaking to ESB about Paul’s upcoming fight and future direction, Fleming’s promoter Mike Altamura stated “I am happy with Yoshida. He is a good barometer for some of the other contenders in the division.”
Fleming, who turns 25 on April 3, was meant to fight last month in Queensland, Australia but the bout was cancelled after his scheduled opponent pulled out with Visa difficulties. Therefore Fleming has been in training for the best part of 2013, with Altamura explaining “I got him back in camp in January and he trained for five weeks leading into that one and then freshened up for a week and from the third week in February, he’s been in camp for the past six to seven weeks.”
The fight with Yoshida is expected to be the first of a series of bouts overseas, with the end goal being a world title shot sometime in 2014. Altamura details “my goal has always been by the close of this year, I want him ready to step up and take a title fight. He needs two to three fights to show he is worthy and get the right experience. This kid’s got a stack of ability. It’s about getting the right opportunity to show the best of his ability. He needs to be put under pressure.” Working with Top Rank should assist in the goal of Altamura and positioning Fleming for a title shot.
Asked on Top Rank’s view of Fleming’s development, Altamura states “he’s been signed to Top Rank since the start of his career since the Beijing Olympics…We’ve got a similar perspective on where he is heading.”
The fact Top Rank is looking to establish a strong presence in the Asian boxing market, works well for Altamura and Fleming, with the journey to Asia a much easier journey from Australia than the US, where camp has to be set up many days in advance for acclimatisation. Altamura states “I prefer fighting in this region. We are leaving tomorrow (Tuesday 2 April) for the fight. Macao is on Perth time. It makes it a bit easier (in Macao) and if they can bring the right level of opposition to Asia, that’s fine.”
With Fleming able to fight in a position to compete at either featherweight or super featherweight, the next couple of fights are crucial to determining which road Fleming takes to a championship fight.
According to Altamura, “we want to be fair dinkum, if he wants to fight at 130, we need him to be a bit stronger.” Weight wise, he believes “I think super feather suits him best, feather is a bit of a test (to make weight).”
Whichever route Fleming takes, one thing that can be said is that career wise, he is at an exciting phase where big fight opportunities appear on the horizon.
Come Saturday night, an exciting performance in Macao should set the Australian for a great year in the ring.