China's Zou Shiming lined up for world title fight
Two-time Olympic champion eyes IBF flyweight crown - but it all depends on how he shapes up in his Ring of Gold bout in Macau
China's two-time Olympic champion Zou Shiming is being lined up for a world title fight in November, less than two years after turning professional.
Bob Arum, chairman of promoters Top Rank, revealed that Zou would fight IBF (International Boxing Federation) world champion Amnat Ruenroeng of Thailand for the federation's world flyweight title in Macau in November "if everything goes to plan".
Arum was speaking at a press conference for Ring of Gold, which will be held at the CotaiArena on Saturday and is headlined by the Chinese star, who turned pro in January last year and will celebrate his 33rd birthday in May.
"We are not going to rush him [Zou] towards a world title fight and then see he's not ready.
"When we see him fight on Saturday, we will have a better idea.
"Zou will have another fight lined up early this summer, in May. That will be a 10-round fight.
"Trainer Freddie [Roach] thinks he can be ready [for a world title]," said Arum.
"The IBF world flyweight champion [Amnat] will arrive in Macau tomorrow [Friday] to watch Zou fight. He has agreed to fight Zou.
"If everything goes according to plan, we can take it from there. But it all depends on how Zou performs on Saturday first," he said.
"Zou is going to turn 33 and he doesn't have much time [in the ring]. That's true. He will be fighting 112 pounds if he fights for the world title."
Zou will be looking to extend his unbeaten professional record (3-0) on Saturday when he takes on seasoned Thai campaigner Yokthong Kokietgym over eight rounds in Ring of Gold.
Yokthong (14-3, 10 KOs) will be Zou's toughest professional fight to date.
Hall of Fame coach Roach said Zou's fight on Saturday would tell where the mainland boxer stands after he won his last fight, at November's Clash in Cotai, convincingly.
"We have to see how he develops in this fight. If he looks good, we will go to 10 rounds in his next fight. If he doesn't look good, we will have to do it another way. It's step by step," said Roach.
"His progress is getting better. He's still very hungry. He is motivated, he shows it every day. He works hard and he's very dedicated and he hasn't lost that drive yet."
"The best-case scenario is that Zou will fight for a world title. The worst case, it might be eight rounds again, but hopefully we don't go down that far."
The American trainer added: "He has been sparring top fighters from different weight divisions. He is growing as a fighter."
Zou feels he will be ready for a world title fight in eight months - November.
"I am becoming more experienced. My training camp for this fight on Saturday has been very effective," he said.
"It's my first eight-round fight but I am getting stronger and more confident.
"We are working on a world title fight. Let's get through this fight first."