Title fight feels just like Olympics, says Zou Shiming
Guizhou native, a gold medallist in Beijing and London, is 'stronger than ever' ahead of his professional bout with Colombia's Luis De la Rosa
China's golden boy Zou Shiming says fighting for his first professional title in this month's Champions of Gold in Macau will be like "going back to the Olympics again".
The two-time Olympic gold medallist will step it up as he faces experienced Colombian fighter Luis de la Rosa in a 10-round contest with the World Boxing Organisation (WBO) international flyweight title on the line.
The 33-year-old Guizhou native (4-0-0, 1 KO) is excited that he will be gunning for his first pro title with a view to a possible world title challenge in November, also in Macau.
"I won't focus too much on my opponent or the title, but on how I am going to fight and work on my strategies. Of course, it's a prestigious thing to win a professional title. I must come in tip-top shape," said Zou, who was in Hong Kong to promote his fight a week on Saturday.
"Training has been crazy in the United States [Los Angeles]. I have intensified my endurance and strength training. I think I am physically stronger than before."
The 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Games champion added: "It used to take me 55 minutes running up to the [Griffith] Observatory on Hollywood Hills [6.9 kilometres], but now I run it in 40 minutes," he said.
"I have worked on my speed and I am a bit bigger [across the chest]."
Zou's manager, Canadian Edmund Chu, said Zou fighting for a professional belt was a "huge honour".
"No matter what type of belt or title he is fighting for, Zou will cherish it. Very few people fight for a title. It's the first step towards a world title. He's excited," said Chu.
The fight will be Zou's biggest challenge in his burgeoning career.
Since turning professional in January last year, the lightly built flyweight has fought four, six and eight rounders. But 10 rounds, and against an experienced opponent as De La Rosa (23-3-1, 13 KOs), will push him to a whole new level.
It will also be Zou's first fight since winning his first professional knockout victory against Thailand's Yokthong Kokietgym, in seven rounds, in February's Ring of Gold.
"My coach Freddie [Roach] said I would need to compete in a heavier division in future if I do win the world flyweight title one day," Zou said. "Right now, I can't wait to fight again.
"De La Rosa is a tough opponent. I have studied his fights. He's good and he's brave and he will be a huge challenge for me. But I have faith in myself. I have improved in leaps and bounds and I'm hoping I will get my world title shot this year."