Zou Shiming

I came here to entertain, says Zou Shiming after scoring 8th round TKO in Shanghai comeback

China’s two-time gold medallist easily fends off Brazilian opponent in his most assured effort since turning pro in 2013

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 30 January, 2016, 11:21pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 31 January, 2016, 1:33am

Zou Shiming has been fighting for about as long as Natan Santana Coutinho has been alive and he drew on every ounce of that experience as he claimed the WBO international flyweight crown at the Oriental Sports Centre last night.

The referee called a halt to their bout with 2:17 gone in the eighth round, but by then Zou had well and truly taken the kid to school.

He came here to entertain but the best way to entertain was to win and I did that
Zou Shiming

“I knew I had to win and I wanted to show my fans in China what boxing is all about,” said 34-year-old Zou, who had never previously fought as a pro on the mainland. “He came here to entertain but the best way to entertain was to win and I did that.”

Zou watched as his 21-year-old opponent showed off some dance moves in the first round and then continued the move himself – in for the kill – as he landed combinations at will on his way to a TKO victory.

READ MORE: Zou Shiming breaks from reality TV stardom to resurrect boxing career in ‘Return of the King’

The real surprise was how long it took for proceedings to end. Just how much can be read into the win is anyone’s guess given that Brazilian Coutinho’s record of 12-0 coming in flattered to deceive.

He fought stiffs and knocked out 10 of them and came to Shanghai promising to do the same to China’s boxing idol and two-time Olympic champion. No chance of that.

Last year’s loss to Thailand’s Amnat Ruenroeng in the IBF world flyweight title bout had brought a temporary halt to the publicity machine that has pushed Zou along since he turned pro in 2013.

The money men can now look to the future and maybe even a world title shot at the end of the year as this was by far and away his most assured effort as he pushed his record to 7-1.

Sharing top of the bill was Ryoto Murata of Japan – like Zou a gold medallist at the London Games in 2012 – and the middleweight showed his reputation in the pro ranks continues to grow, setting up Argentine journeyman Gaston Alejandro Vega with a straight left and then sending him down and out with a wicked right with two minutes, 23 seconds gone in the second round.

The knockout took Murata’s record to 9-0 with six KOs and a 30-year-old will likely now head to Europe as he works his way towards his own world title shot.

The nine bout “The Return of the King” card brought the curtain down on the biggest day pro boxing has ever had on the mainland as the sport continues its attempt to take root here.

The action had kicked off at 10am. By the time of Zou’s victory the crowd had swelled to about 10,000 and they had been 29 mostly wild and woolly bouts spread across a day that left even the most hardened of fight fans feeling a little punch drunk – but happy.

Twenty of those bouts were minimal rounders held as part of the “League of Fists” elimination series that is broadcast nationally and is being used by promoters Top Rank and Seca in their efforts to lift the sport’s profile.

They had hoped Zou would provide the perfect ending and their poster boy duly delivered.