Too much Sho for fa­tigued Zou

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS - By ALYWIN CHEW in Shang­hai alywin@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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

Score­board

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.”

Quick jabs

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.

XIN­HUA

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.

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