Words: Alan Dawson – London
Photos: Chris Farina – Top Rank
Heralded Chinese junior flyweight, Zou Shiming, a two-time Olympic gold winner and three-time World Amateur Champion, scaled in at 111lb earlier today, Friday, ahead of his pro debut examination against Eleazar Valenzuela, who weighed 111.6lb. They square off in a four round attraction at the Venetian Macao Resort Hotel in Macao, China on April 6.
Shiming may be China’s most decorated amateur pugilist, but the modest 31-year-old feels he has honed his craft further whilst training out of head coach Freddie Roach’s famed Wildcard Boxing Club in Hollywood, California. “Freddie has taught me a lot – including how to launch my power from my legs,” Zou said this week.
He added: “How I can give my opponent body shots… a lot of things. He’s made me more skilled. In training camp with Freddie I have to avoid as many power punches from my sparring opponents as I can. I constantly need to remind myself this is not Olympic-style games. This is real. This is professional boxing.”
Shiming fights for pay for the first time on Saturday night. Having won his first World Amateur Championship in 2005, he has been a dominant force for eight years whilst receiving little remuneration. That, though, is set to change as he will receive a $300,000 purse – an astonishing figure considering he is yet to abandon the head-gear.
“I am so excited for Saturday night,” said Shiming, unfazed at the daunting possibility of attracting a billion people in his home nation to the sport of professional boxing. “As big a night as it is for me it is even a bigger night for the sport of boxing and for boxing in China. My goal is to shine as bright a light on the sport in my country and to help advance its development here for amateurs and professionals alike.”
Opponent Valenzuela is unimpressed by Shiming’s pedigree and ability to collect coin. He said: “I never heard of Zou Shiming before taking this fight against him. I only had nine amateur fights. The biggest purse I’ve fought for so far is $400.
“I’m here to win. The crowd makes no difference to me. I’m not fighting the crowd. I’m fighting Zou. Will he be shocked when he is hit by a professional fighter for the first time? He’ll be shocked when he’s hit by this professional fighter.”