China / Sports

Zou preparing to storm Shanghai in comeback

By Murray Greig (China Daily) Updated: 2015-12-22 08:16

Zou Shiming last fought nine months ago, but his hectic schedule in the interim suggests China's two-time Olympic gold medalist might be guilty of resisting a rest.

Just days after dropping a unanimous decision to Thailand's Amnat Ruenroeng for the vacant IBF world flyweight title in Macao in March, Zou was back in the gym, anxious to rectify his mistakes. When he wasn't training, the 34-year-old from Zunyi, Guizhou province, was co-starring with his four-year-old son in Where Are We Going, Dad?, a hit reality series for Hunan Television.

The acting gig came on the heels of a handful of TV commercials and Zou's cameo appearance in last year's Hollywood blockbuster, Transformers 4: Age of Extinction.

But now it's back to reality.

On Jan 30, in his first mainland bout as a pro, Zou (6-1, 1 KO) will headline a seven-bout card at Shanghai's Oriental Sports Center when he squares off against unbeaten South American champ Natan Coutinho for the WBO International flyweight title.

The 21-year-old Coutinho, from Sao Paulo, Brazil, is 12-0 with 10 KOs. He turned pro two months ahead of Zou in 2013, but has banked just 33 rounds in 12 fights compared to Zou's 57 in seven outings.

Along with a 13-year age gap, the major disparity between the two fighters is the quality of their opposition. Zou's seven opponents have compiled a combined record of 89-8-5, while the dozen names on Coutinho's hit list are 49-116-2.

"He has good technique and footwork," Zou said of the Brazilian in a weekend interview with "I will be training in Shanghai with (head trainer) Freddie Roach's chief assistant, and our focus will be on improving my punching technique and muscle strength."

As for rebounding from the first loss of his professional career, Zou was philosophic: "I lost. That is part of life. It is an experience, but I am ready to return. Without losing, you cannot taste the sweetness of victory."

After watching Ruenroeng win by 116-111 on all three scorecards, Roach vowed to make his fighter more "complete."

"We have to go back to square one and become more complete, more adaptable," said the Hall of Fame trainer, who will return to Zou's corner on fight night. "The last guy gave us a lot of trouble by running, and he was a very good counterpuncher. I didn't see that kind of fighter on the video we studied, so that's on me. The plan I devised totally sucked."

While the undercard for Jan 30 is still being finalized, popular junior welterweight Yang Lianhui is expected to return to the ring for the first time since dropping a decision to Argentina's Cesar Cuenca for the vacant IBF world title in July.

Yang, a 30-year-old slugger from Dalian, Liaoning province, is 19-1 with 14 KOs. His stablemates, 6-foot-3 light heavyweight Qu Peng (9-1-1, 6 KOs) and southpaw light flyweight Ma Yiming (12-6, 7 KOs) have also been penciled in for prelims.

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