Zou Shiming breaks from reality TV stardom to resurrect boxing career in 'Return of the King'
After a 10-month hiatus in a TV show with his son, the Chinese fighter is fully focused on his bout with Brazilian Natan Coutinho
China awaits "The Return of the King" on Saturday night when Zou Shiming gets back in the ring after a 10-month hiatus.
Though his crown might have slipped – last March Zou could find no way through the defensive wall that fights under the name of Amnat Ruenroeng in their IBF world flyweight title bout in Macau – the two-time Olympic gold medallist has never been more popular.
That’s thanks to his starring role alongside four-year-old son in the wildly successful reality TV show Dad, Where Are We Going?
Its success – and Zou’s small screen stardom – seem to have clouded the memories of most.
READ MORE: Chinese boxing icon Zou Shiming to take on unbeaten Brazilian Natan Santana Coutinho in next fight
Zou was outthought as much as outpointed then, but he said on Thursday at his training base on the outskirts of Shanghai that he’d taken time out to refocus, and to rebuild the shoulder he damaged in the fight.
“I lost on my way to becoming a world [amateur] champion, and I lost on my way to become an Olympic champion,” said the 34-year-old Zou, whose professional record now stands 6-1 with one knockout after the loss to Amnat.
“I’ve realised there is more to my life than boxing. That’s why I have explored the entertainment industry.
“But that doesn’t mean I’m not fully focused when it comes time to box. I am. And I am ready to start planning for another world title shot, starting with my next opponent.”
That would be the 21-year-old Brazilian Natan Coutinho, who brings to China a record of 12-0, with 10 KOs as he shares top billing on Saturday night’s nine-bout "The Return of the King" card at the Oriental Sports Centre.
Zou’s scouting reports say Coutinho’s a fighter who will keep coming forward and with that in mind the Chinese fighter’s work since returning to Shanghai from Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach’s base in LA has been primarily focused on his power.
Has it worked?
“The little f***** has been hitting hard,” was co-trainer Justin Fortune’s succinct assessment.
“I have been working hard – I have always worked hard,” said Zou.
“But I never stopped training over the past year – not for a day. I feel strong and I feel ready for Saturday.”