Too much Sho for fatigued Zou
One and done. That’s a probable epitaph for Zou Shiming’s professional boxing career after China’s double Olympic gold medalist was stopped by 10-1 Japanese underdog Sho Kimura in their WBO world flyweight title fight on Friday night in Shanghai.
In his first bout since capturing the crown eight months ago and fighting for the first time under his own promotional banner and without Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach in his corner, the 36-year-old Zou (9-2) showed only abbreviated flashes of speed and power — but he was leading on two of the three scorecards when he was
TKO’d at 2:28 of round 11.
Kimura (15-1-2), a 28-yearold part-time beer delivery man, silenced a packed Shanghai Oriental Sports Center by ignoring a brutal cut over his right eye and rallying to finish the fatigued Zou with eight unanswered blows to the head that sent the poster boy of Chinese boxing careening to the canvas.
Referee Danrex Tapdasada stopped the fight moments later.
Zou had predicted he would KO the challenger in four rounds, and early on it looked like that forecast might come true. But the Japanese upstart, ranked No 7 in the world, never relented, even with his eyebrow gushing blood after being ripped open in the sixth.
In the end, Kimura’s quickness and punching accuracy made the difference.
Afterwards, a teary Zou thanked the audience for their support and sounded defiant as his family joined him in the ring.
“I have been boxing for 22 years. I have won two Olympic gold medals and a world championship. I might have lost tonight’s match but I have already achieved my goal of promoting boxing in China,” he said.
“I am sure I will bounce back from this defeat. I will always be king. I don’t rule out retirement but, personally, I don’t want to say goodbye.”
Moments later, organizers canceled the post-fight news conference. No explanation was given.
Kimura, who was still bleeding during interviews with the media, paid tribute to Zou.
“Zou Shiming is an outstanding athlete. I couldn’t tell that he is 36 years old. His punches are very powerful and many of them hit me. He’s a very strong opponent and I respect him a lot,” he said.
When asked about his plans for the future, the new champion flashed a smile while wiping blood from his face.
“Yes, I think I can stop delivering beer now. I want to focus on training full time and retaining the title. But first, I’m heading to my mother’s grave. I won this championship belt for her.”
Zou was leading 97-93 and 96-94 on two scorecards when the fight was stopped. The third card had Kimura ahead 96-94 ... The night started on a positive note for Zou when all five Chinese boxers contracted to his company, Zouxuan Sports, went undefeated on the undercard, winning three and drawing two against foreign opponents ... In May, Zou opted not to renew his contract with Las Vegas-based Top Rank, which had placed him in Roach’s stable. Zou also severed his ties with Shanghai-based promoter SECA and struck a co-sponsorship deal with Alisports.
Zou Shiming (right) trades punches with Japanese challenger Sho Kimura during their WBO world flyweight championship bout in Shanghai on Friday night. Kimura won by TKO in 11 rounds.