Zou living his world boxing title dream
As methodical as a surgeon and cool as an assassin, Zou Shiming punched his way to the vacant WBO world flyweight title on Saturday night in Las Vegas.
China’s two-time Olympic gold medalist from Zunyi, Guizhou Province, was all but perfect in pounding out a 12-round decision over Thailand’s Prasitsak Phaprom on the undercard of Manny Pacquiao’s welterweight title triumph over Jessie Vargas at the Thomas and Mack Center.
Two judges scored the bout 120-107 while the third had it 119-108 for Zou, who became just the second Chinese boxer to win a major world title after Kunming’s Zhang Chaozhong, who won the WBC strawweight crown in 2012.
“My dream is now realized ... all the hard work paid off,” Zou, 35, said in a TV interview moments after being presented with the title belt.
“I didn’t really feel pressure; I was calm and relaxed throughout the fight. Now I am an Olympic champion, a pro champion ... and a world champion.”
Zou fought like a champ from the opening bell, using his 10-centimeter height advantage to dictate a distance that Phaprom was never able to violate with meaningful violence.
Since his last outing — a 10-round decision over Hungary’s Jozef Ajtai in June — Zou and his Hall of Fame trainer, Freddie Roach, made some subtle adjustments to open up punching angles, and the result was spectacular.
After decking Phaprom with a short right hook late in the second round, Zou took complete command in the third, landing an impressive 52 percent of his punches.
The scenario was repeated over and over for the remainder of the fight: Phaprom desperately trying to bull his way inside, and Zou calmly teeing off with vicious rights behind a piston-like jab.
In improving to 9-1, Zou landed 347 of 778 punches (45 percent), highlighted by brilliant bombardment in rounds 6 and 7 that landed with an astonishing 63 percent accuracy.
Phaprom, 35, had scored 12 straight KOs since losing to Zou in Macao two years ago. He dropped to 39-2-2.
“He’s dirty as hell,” Roach said of the Thai when the rematch was announced.
“The last time we fought him, Prasitak was head-butting and landing low blows throughout the whole fight. I’ve warned my guy to be ready to respond this time.” There was no need. Zou never gave Phaprom the opportunity to turn it into a street fight, keeping the pressure on the smaller man by stalking rather than chasing.
China’s Zou Shiming knocks down Thailand’s Prasitsak Phaprom in the second round of their WBO flyweight championship fight at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas on Saturday. Zou won byunanimous decision.