Zou wants a world title after winning pro debut

Updated: 2013-04-08 08:00

By Agence France-Presse in Macao (China Daily)

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 Zou wants a world title after winning pro debut

China's Zou Shiming celebrates his win with a Chinese national flag after beating Mexico's Eleazar Valenzuela on Saturday. Bobby Yip / Reuters

Chinese boxer beats Valenzuela in unanimous decision in Macao fight

China's Zou Shiming said he was eyeing a world title after he won his debut professional fight on Saturday, defeating little-known Mexican Eleazar Valenzuela on a unanimous points decision in Macao.

The two-time Olympic gold medalist and three-time amateur world champion emerged from a tight contest over four rounds, all three judges giving him victory 40-36. Zou reportedly pocketed $300,000 for his night's work.

No Chinese boxer has been as successful as Zou, 31, in the amateur ranks and his eagerly anticipated professional debut was expected to draw hundreds of millions of television viewers in China.

The "Fists of Gold" night at the opulent The Venetian resort-hotel in Macao, the gambling enclave close to Hong Kong that attracts China's high-rollers, saw United States promoter Bob Arum bring the razzmatazz of US boxing to China.

"Taking part in a professional fight is really a new experience. As a rookie though it's only a four-rounder, but as a rookie that's how you get started," the flyweight Zou, who had few marks to his face, said.

"Hopefully it will be from four rounds to six and to eight, and to the championship," he said, via an interpreter.

"I want to thank China as the country that has supported me, and supported my success in the Olympics. It doesn't matter where I go, I will always be Chinese."

Wearing gold trunks, Zou, who topped the bill at the 15,000-seater CotaiArena, which was two-thirds full, let his opponent do the work in the first round.

The inexperienced Mexican came into the fight with just two wins behind him.

Roared on by the passionate home support, Zou grinned broadly at one point as yet another Valenzuela swing hit nothing but air.

But if the crowd and Zou's promoters at Las Vegas-based Top Rank - who are going after the untapped China market and its growing financial muscle - had been expecting a first-round victory, they were left disappointed.

The second round followed the same script, Valenzuela doing the work and Zou ducking and diving his way out of trouble, challenging his opponent to bring on more.

Halfway through the scheduled four rounds and things were not exactly going to plan for Zou and an electric home crowd, who were baying for a knockout.

But the Chinese fighter showed plenty more in the third, rocking Valenzuela twice, first with a strong right and then a clubbing left, bringing the patriotic home support to its feet.

In the fourth and final round, Zou finally showed more ambition as he connected with some impressive body shots and hunted down a spectacular finale against the stubborn Valenzuela.

"It was a great fight for him. There's something very different between amateur and professional fights," said Freddie Roach, the celebrated trainer who has taken Zou under his wing and has had him training in the United States.

"He did revert back to his amateur style at various points, but he will get better and better in his pro style and I think we have a future world champion on our hands."

Arum, who says he wants to have more top-class boxing in Macao, most likely this summer, added of Zou's big debut on the world stage: "I thought it was great.

"I've been in boxing a long time and I know what happens. Usually you take the kid and put him in with low-grade opponents.

"I couldn't do that here because it would have been a slap in the face to The Venetian and the people in China."

(China Daily 04/08/2013 page24)