Sports / Boxing

Zou shines in first big test

By Murray Greig (China Daily) Updated: 2014-07-21 07:17

Chinese flyweight notches stylish decision over Colombian veteran in 10-round debut

Zou Shiming made his great leap forward on Saturday night in Macao.

All it took for the flashy flyweight from Zunyi, Guizhou province, to transition from talented prospect to world title contender was a lopsided 10-round decision over three-time championship challenger Luis De La Rosa of Colombia.

Zou shines in first big test

Zou Shiming (right) moves in on Luis De La Rosa during their 10-round flyweight bout at Cotai Arena in Macao on Saturday night. Zou, from Zunyi, Guizhou province, won a unanimous decision over the Colombian veteran to improve his professional record to 5-0. Photos by An Lingjun For China Daily

Zou shines in first big test

Zou Shiming lands an inside right hook against Luis De La Rosa en route to winning the WBO's international junior flyweight belt on Saturday night.

Showcasing an impressive arsenal of power punches complemented by savvy defense, the 33-year-old Zou improved to 5-0 and claimed the World Boxing Organization's international junior flyweight belt - but now his eyes are on a much bigger prize.

"I wanted to show that my power punches have improved and that I am a better counter puncher ... and I think I did that," Zou said in a post-fight interview with HBO's Larry Merchant.

"I do feel some pressure from my fans in China to meet their expectations, but I think my style and power are improving, and that has bolstered my confidence."

Zou all but pitched a shutout against the experienced De La Rosa, who came in to the fight at the Venetian Resort's Cotai Arena with a record of 23-3-1 and 13 KOs.

The judge's scores were 99-91, 99-91 and 97-93.

Right from the opening bell Zou pressed the action, scoring with sizzling overhand rights set up by a stiff jab.

De La Rosa had no answer for Zou's relentless aggression, which kept him backpedaling through most of the first three rounds. On the few occasions the Colombian was able to punch his way out of the pocket, Zou cut off the ring and punished him against the ropes.

De La Rosa's fatigue was evident at the end of Round 4 when he tried to wriggle out of a clinch and slipped to the canvas, and in Round 5 an accidental head-butt opened a deep gash at the corner of his left eye that bled profusely the rest of the way.

Zou set a fast pace throughout the bout, and his lateral shifts after firing three- and four-punch combinations kept De La Rosa guessing as to what was coming next. Besides his vaunted overhand right, Zou consistently landed jolting uppercuts to keep his shorter opponent at bay.

There was no quit in De La Rosa, but by Round 9 it was just a question of whether he could remain vertical. A furious combination by Zou to open the round looked like it might be enough to end it, but the Colombian fought back courageously, slamming two right hooks to Zou's chin.

Zou was clearly gunning for the knockout in the final round, which could have been fought in a closet. Just inches apart, both men landed haymakers during a 90-second exchange in the center of the ring, and they were still loading up when the final bell sounded.

Top Rank promoter Bob Arum said before the fight that an impressive win by Zou would put him first in line for a shot at the vacant World Boxing Association junior flyweight title against No 1-ranked Alberto Rossel of Peru.

That bout is expected to be the co-feature on eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao's welterweight title defense against unbeaten Chris Algieri (28-0), scheduled for Nov 22 at Cotai Arena.

The winner of Zou versus Rossel would then be obligated to face No 2-ranked southpaw Randy Petalcorin of the Philippines.

Another possibility is Zou challenging International Boxing Federation world champion Amnat Ruenroeng of Thailand, whom he defeated as an amateur at the 2010 Asian Games.

QUICK JABS: Zou's victory capped a big night for Chinese fighters on Top Rank's nine-bout card: Hong Kong bantamweight Rex Tso improved to 14-0 and notched his ninth KO by stopping John Dajawa of Indonesia 48 seconds into Round 5; super lightweight Ik Yang of Dalian moved to 15-0-1 with a third-round KO of Thailand's Rachamongkol Pleonchit; and Macao crowd-pleaser Ng Kuok Kun (5-0) won a unanimous decision over New Zealand's Beau O'Brien in their six-round super welterweight fight ... Zou's bout, along with WBO international super middleweight champion Gilberto Ramirez's first-round KO of Junior Talipeau and WBA super bantamweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux's first-round KO of Sod Looknongyangtoy were delay televised on HBO2 in the US.

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