How China boxing star Zou Shiming has infuriated his business partners by going it alone
China’s boxing hero decides to promote his next fight in Shanghai on July 28 on his own
China’s world champion Zou Shiming has become his own man, taking the drastic step of promoting his latest fight on his own in a move that has infuriated his long-time business partners.
Zou (9-1, 2 KOs) will return to the ring later this month to make his first world title defence since lifting the WBO flyweight belt in Las Vegas last November, but he won’t be joined by leading boxing promoter, Top Rank, or his long-time sports management partner, Seca.
The Post has learned that he has not renewed his contract with Top Rank. Business associates who helped promote Zou’s image while supporting him inside and outside the ring since he turned professional in January 2013 will be absent for the two-time Olympic champion’s 11th bout on July 28.
Hall of Fame coach, Freddie Roach, a Top Rank trainer, who helped Zou make the transition from top amateur to world professional champion, will not by his side when he takes on Japan’s seventh-ranked Sho Kimura (14-1-2, 7 KOs) at the Shanghai Oriental Sports Centre.
The same goes for Zou’s previous strength and conditioning coach, Justin Fortune, who will take no part in the mainlander’s final preparations. Roach and Fortune are both in Brisbane for Manny Pacquiao’s latest fight against Australian Jeff Horn on Sunday at the Suncorp Stadium.
Although still contracted with Seca until the end of 2019, Zou, who began his pro career at the Cotai Arena in Macau in April 2013, has decided to do his own promotion in a move Seca founder and CEO, Sheng Li, warned might backfire.
“I think he’s making a big mistake,” said Li, who insists he maintains good ties with the Zunyi-born fighter.
“He made the decision to promote the fight by himself with his wife [Ran Yingying]. If he wants to become his own promoter, that’s his own choice. He made the decision after he won the world title last November.
“I don’t know how many fights he still has [left in him]. It’s for him and his family to decide.
“For us, we believe Top Rank are the best promoter for him because in this business when we started in Macau, Top Rank were pulling in their resources and showed us what pro boxing is [all about] and they did a great job to help his career in a short time in pro boxing. If you ask me personally, I think it’s a big mistake not to stay with them [Top Rank].
Li added: “We wouldn’t recommend what he’s doing. I understand that he has his own perspective, especially at this stage of his career. I guess he has achieved everything he wanted to achieve. His priorities might have changed.
“We think Shiming is a terrific athlete. We have achieved a lot together. We made many proposals on what he wants to do after his retires. He and his family and especially his wife, they also have their own plans.”
Li said Zou is still contracted with Seca but that could change after 2019 when the flyweight champion decides whether or not to renew his contract with the top Chinese sports management agency.
“In terms of our contractual agreement, we still believe we have a very solid contract in place and that contract is still enforced right now, and that includes a full management representation. But for this fight, he’s doing it on his own as a promoter and he has elected not to renew his promotional contract with Top Rank.”
Li said Seca and Top Rank have helped Zou achieve his aim from a three-time world amateur champion and three-time Olympic medallist (he also won bronze in Athens 2004) to a professional world champion in less than four years.
“We’re his agent and together with Top Rank, we helped him achieve his aim. It was quite a journey. From our perspective [Seca], we helped him [as a boxer] from amateur to professional. We are very proud to have helped his career,” said Li.