Eve of the ‘Yang Dynasty’
The ‘Yang Dynasty’ may be almost upon us. The wildly entertaining Ik Yang is a fight away from being one of boxing’s unlikeliest world champions and just the second ever from the People’s Republic of China. Only light-hitting Cesar Cuenca stands in his way at the Cotai Arena in Macao on Saturday night.
With master trainer Freddie Roach unable to fly due to a longstanding back complaint, the knowledgeable Justin Fortune has stepped into the breach for the most important fight of Yang’s often surreal career.
Yang (19-0 14 KOs) takes showboating to a new level, but Fortune is confident that the Chinese co-challenger will find a balance and composure when it matters most in this vacant IBF super-lightweight clash. The fighter dubbed ‘The Wildman’ by promoter Bob Arum has improved markedly since his last fight in March if his gym workouts provide any indication.
“He’s throwing more combinations. He’s a little more relaxed in the fact that he doesn’t just headhunt all the time,” Fortune told Boxing Monthly. “He’s doing a lot more. I need to not reign [Yang’s eccentricity] in, more control it. I am happy for him to let go whenever he can but it’s more to control the madness. I like that about him. It’s his edge as a fighter. So if he pressures this guy…pressure, pressure, pressure….he should win the fight.”
Cuenca, an awkward southpaw with good movement but negligible power, will undoubtedly seek to frustrate Yang on the outside, but if the Chinese fighter stays in the pocket and gets his distance right Fortune is confident his man will prevail.
“We’ve been sparring some really awkward southpaws, bigger southpaws and some amateur southpaws who are ridiculously fast,” said the LA-based Australian. “He’s prepared for it, but let’s face it Cuenca can’t breaking a f***ing egg. That’s the thing with a boxer against a fighter - if he can’t hurt him then you’re doomed. He will chase you down all night and beat the s**t out of you.
“I’d never heard of [Cuenca] before this fight. I’ve looked at his last five fights and it’s just older guys with decent records, all in Argentina. No disservice to him, I’ve just never heard of the guy, One of the [two] guys he stopped was with a body shot - the guy actually quit. It wasn’t really a stoppage the way we know a stoppage.”
Fortune was quick to dispel the notion that the unconventional Yang might get frustrated and sail close to disqualification if the awkward Cuenca (47-0, 2 KOs) negotiates the dangerous early rounds by spoiling.
“We try to keep [Yang] under control but as far as a disqualification? It’s China! Who is going to f***ing disqualify him?” laughed Fortune. “Listen, if the guy comes in and tries to hold him…I’ve told Yang to rough him up. Make sure he does not want to come back in and hold you again. But Yang might frustrate the hell out of him. He’s not faced someone like Yang who is unorthodox in his own way.”
Despite outside concerns about his weight, Yang weighed in at 139.8lbs with Cuenca scaling 139.4lbs at Friday’s official weigh-in at the Bellini Lounge.
Weights from Bellini Lounge, Venetian Macao:
Vacant IBF super-lightweight title – 12 rounds
Ik Yang - 139.8lbs
Cesar Cuenca – 139.4lbs
Super-bantamweights – 10 rounds
Nonito Donaire 123lbs
Anthony Settoul 123lbs
Super-lightweights – 8 rounds
Jose Carlos Ramirez 141lb
Ryusei Yoshida 141lbs
Lightweights – 10 rounds
Denis Shafikov 136lbs
Roy Mukhlis 136lbs
Super-flyweights – 8 rounds
Rex Tso 116lbs
Khunkhiri Wor Wisaruth 119lbs
Light-heavyweights – 6 rounds
Qu Peng 174lbs
Michael Van Nimwegen 174lbs
Welterweights – 6 rounds
Kuok Kun Ng 146lbs
Phompetch Twins Gym 146lbs
Super-middleweights – 4 rounds
Zulpikar Maimaitiali 166lbs
Joo Young Kwon 166lbs
Yang-Cuenca will be streamed live in the US on Toprank.tv from 6am ET with most of the undercard.
Nonito Donaire-Anthony Settoul, as well as Jose Ramírez's bout with Ryusei Yoshida, will be televised to the U.S, via same-day delay, on Solo Boxeo Tecate on UniMás, beginning at 11pm ET/PT.
Victory at the Venetian will be broadcast live on BoxNation in the UK from 1.30pm.