Sat, Feb 22, 2014 - Page 19 News List

China’s Zou gets fast track to world title

AFP, HONG KONG

Trailblazing Chinese boxer Zou Shi-ming is being fast-tracked towards a world-title fight in November, less than two years after turning professional, a report said yesterday.

The two-time Olympic champion will draw closer to a title shot if he wins today’s flyweight bout against Thailand’s Yokthong Kokietgym in Macau, the South China Morning Post said.

Promoter Bob Arum said Zou, 32, was being lined up to fight International Boxing Federation (IBF) world champion Amnat Ruenroeng of Thailand.

“We are not going to rush him toward a world title fight and then see he’s not ready,” Arum was quoted as saying. “When we see him fight on Saturday, we will have a better idea.”

“Zou will have another fight lined up early this summer, in May. That will be a 10-round fight... Trainer Freddie [Roach] thinks he can be ready [for a world title fight],” he added.

A world title would dramatically raise the profile of boxing in China, a huge untapped market which is now being targeted with a series of fights in the Chinese autonomous territory of Macau.

Zou’s late plunge into the pro ranks follows an amateur career in which he became China’s first Olympic boxing medalist, first world amateur champion and first Olympic champion.

The exploits made him a household name in China, where boxing was banned under former Chinese leader Mao Zedong (毛澤東), and where his three professional wins against unheralded opposition have been closely followed.

Today’s eight-round, non-title fight tops the bill at the Venetian Macao casino, ahead of an IBF world lightweight title bout between defender Miguel Vazquez and Denis Shafikov.

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