Zou Shiming loses first WBO world title defense bout in Shanghai

Zou Shiming is expected to retire after being knocked out by Japan’s Sho Kimura in his first WBO world title defending bout at Shanghai Oriental Sports Center yesterday.

It’s finally time for China’s best-known and most successful boxer, Zou Shiming, to seriously rethink his professional career after being knocked out by Japan’s Sho Kimura in his first WBO world title defending bout at Shanghai Oriental Sports Center yesterday.

Facing his opponent, a relatively unknown 28-year-old, 36-year-old Zou continued in his defensive style, stealing points with counter-punches while Kimura kept pushing forward to attack. Come round 11 of the 12-round bout, Zou’s deficit in stamina became evident when he fell to the floor after receiving a barrage of punches from his younger opponent.

The judge then called an end to the bout, as Zou encountered his first TKO defeat in his professional career, which started only four years ago.

The surprising defeat threw a packed Oriental Sports Center into total silence before an emotional Zou, who was in tears, gave a 5-minute speech to the home crowd.

“My tears are not because of my defeat, but for China’s boxing,” said the Guizhou Province native. “For a long time, China’s boxing has not been understood or paid enough attention to. Today I lost my bout, but if it has aroused people’s interest in China’s boxing, the it's served its purpose.”

“I've boxed for 22 years, and what I want is that one day, when I lose a fight and can not play any longer, China’s boxing will still be supported,” Zou added.

Though he did not confirm his retirement, many are regarding the speech as his informal farewell to the professional rink.

Ti Gong

Zou Shiming fights with Sho Kimura, who is eight years his junior.

Turning professional

Zou went professional as late as 32 years of age, after winning two Olympic gold medals in 2008 and 2012. Partnering with Chinese Sports promoter SECA, Zou signed a contract with US boxing promoter Top Rank, and was subsequently trained by Freddie Roach, Manny Pacquiao’s coach.

Top Rank was eyeing the Chinese market after noticing Zou’s reputation and recognition in China, a country where professional boxing is still at a very early stage.

Zou’s nimble playing style and amateur boxing skills, however, could not allow him to reach similar achievements in professional boxing, despite his hard work.

Under Top Rank’s “protection,” Zou’s professional bout opponents had been carefully chosen.

On July 19, 2014, Zou beat Luis de la Rosa by unanimous decision in Macau for his first professional title, the WBO International flyweight title. His first world title came last November when Zou defeated Prasitsak Phaprom via unanimous decision to win the vacant WBO flyweight title in Las Vegas.

Ti Gong

Zou Shiming's wife Ran Yingying cheers for her husband.

The Shanghai fight was Zou’s first professional bout, backed by his own company Zouxuan Sports. However, eight weeks of preparation turned out to be far from enough for the 36-year-old to hold on for 12 rounds, even though his opponent Kimura is considered a rookie boxer, and is far from being well recognized in his native Japan.

Despite the heart-breaking loss, Zou still remains the most successful boxer in China, though his methods could hardly be copied by any up-and-coming boxers. Professional boxing in China still has a long way to go.


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