Zou Shiming

Zou must polish style, says trainer

In his pro debut, China's Olympic champ defeats Valenzuela on points, but trainer says his star potential is not shining through yet

PUBLISHED : Monday, 08 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 18 December, 2014, 1:35pm

China's golden boy Zou Shiming must change his style and iron out some kinks in his game if he is going to be more effective as a professional fighter.

That's the verdict of Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach, who said the two-time Olympic champion would gradually become a better fighter.

"We are working on changing his style a bit," said Roach, who saw his Chinese protégé score a unanimous points victory over tough Mexican Eleazar Valenzuela on his professional debut at the CotaiArena in Macau on Saturday night.

"He won it on points, and that doesn't really cut it in the professional game. People want to see knockouts. That's why [Manny] Pacquiao was so successful, because he knocked all his guys out," said Roach, who also coaches the Filipino superstar.

Zou dominated the four-round contest before a sell-out crowd, but was unable to knock down or knock out his opponent. But Roach was adamant that Zou could develop into a knockout artist.

"Shiming has power in both hands. He hits very hard. He can be a knockout artist, because he shows that in the gym. After a few fights, he will settle down," said the American.

Roach was slightly concerned that Zou tended to revert to his amateur days, such as dropping his hands and opening himself up for an attack.

"In certain situations it works for him," explained Roach of Zou's unusual approach. "We knew we were faster than this guy [Valenzuela] and that when he threw a punch, Shiming could slip in and counterpunch easily. We have film of most of his opponents so we could see whether we could get away with it. I wasn't really worried about having his hands so low because that is something we worked on for this particular opponent."

Roach added: "Shiming gets a bit high on his toes, and when he's so high like that, he can't really punch at it that hard. He has really turned into a great puncher in the gym, and we just have to transfer that to the fight.

"He needs to be more accurate with his punches. He was a bit long with his right hand and hitting it a bit high and not really landing it on the chin.

"If he had landed his punches on his [Valenzuela's] chin, there's no question it would have been a knockout.

"Overall, it wasn't bad for his first fight. I'm sure he was a bit nervous. I expect him to get better, because in the gym he's great. It's just a matter time before he carries that over into the fight."

Roach said Zou's next fight would probably be in September, possibly in Macau again.

"They are talking about that in September, maybe in Macau again as the undercard of a possible Pacquiao fight. But Shiming will be fighting at least six rounds. He just needs a bit of experience to pace himself and so forth. I saw a few of the Filipino boys fight [on Saturday night] and I wouldn't mind them to be Shiming's future opponents," said Roach, referring to flyweight Milan Melindo,

With Filipino-American Brian Viloria losing his unified WBO/WBA world flyweight titles to Mexico's Juan Francisco Estrada on points, Zou has now set his sights on the tenacious Mexican.

"We are not going to fight any bums or guys who are going to fall over for a payday. We want to fight real fighters, so that's why I am looking at those Filipinos, because they are real fighters," Roach said.

Zou gave himself a score of 70 per cent for winning his first pro fight but was confident he would improve as a fighter.

"I'm lacking a bit in experience and stamina. I really wanted to put on a good show for the crowd. I hope I delivered," said Zou, who earned US$300,000 for winning his first pro fight.