Two-time Olympic gold medallist Zou Shiming says his time spent training with Philippine icon Manny Pacquiao was one of the most eye-opening experiences of his life.
Zou spent several weeks in Pacquiao's hometown in General Santos city and was amazed by the eight-time world champion's dedication and work ethic inside the ring, and his quiet demeanour outside.
"I definitely learned a lot from him while I was in the Philippines. I did some conditioning training together with Manny. I know Manny is older than me  but he trains very hard and is very strict. That has really inspired me," said 32-year-old Zou, who will fight Mexico's Juan "Pollo" Toscano during the undercard of The Clash in Cotai on Sunday.
"My training session was generally shorter than Manny's, so I spent a lot of time watching and admiring his training. I learned a lot even when he was practising by himself. He's really special and he was very serious during his workouts. His timing was absolutely right and his talents are great. He's just a great boxer," said Zou, who headlined Fists of Gold I and II in April and July, but will now take a back seat to Pacquiao.
Asked whether he received advice from the "Fighter of the Decade", Zou, who will be fighting in Macau for the third time and will be looking for a 3-0-0 record, said there had been some communication between Pacquiao and Zou when they were promoting The Clash in Cotai in Los Angeles last summer.
"Manny was already speaking to me when he gave me the invitation to go to the Philippines to train with him. Manny advised me to deliver more power to my punches," said flyweight Zou.
"Outside the boxing ring, Manny is a quiet and shy person. He's kind of a big boy, but inside the boxing ring, he's totally charismatic. I did spar with Manny for four rounds. Manny is much heavier than me, but he was very patient and taught me something during the four-round practice.
"I learned a lot and improved a lot from sparring with him."
"Manny has been a great inspiration to me. The training camp in General Santos was even better than our previous training camps. It was a great experience for me," said the mainland boxer.
Zou also said he had to thank the Pacquiao camp for their hospitality even when the country was reeling from the destruction of Super Typhoon Haiyan, which left much of the Philippines devastated, leaving thousands dead and hundreds of thousands homeless.
"I have to thank them for their hospitality even when the whole country was suffering during the tragedy. Every day we were praying for the victims of the Philippines and we hope that they will get through this and be even stronger," said Zou.
"I'm confident I will win my fight, but the real excitement will come from the Manny v [Brandon] Rios fight. I hope everybody will enjoy it."
Zou said he had improved since his last fight in Macau in July when he was roundly criticised during his unanimous decision over Mexican teenager Jesus Ortega.
Zou was running on empty towards the end of the six-round fight, exposing his vulnerability and lacking the killer knockout punch that his mainland fans were still looking for.
"I am still learning what's pro boxing all about. When I was an amateur I also had to overcome many hurdles. I need to adapt to new rules and regulations. I need to study it.
"Now that I am a pro boxer, I also need to overcome hurdles. I know my first two pro fights haven't been all that smooth, but I am confident things will get better step by step.
"I am even improving my English. At first, there was a communication problem, but I am slowly learning," he said.