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Zou Shiming

Robert Garcia to join Zou Shiming camp? It doesn’t matter to me, says Japanese hero Sho Kimura

Rags-to-riches boxer says he has no fights scheduled as he enjoys his celebrity status since his stunning WBO flyweight title victory over Chinese superstar in July

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 September, 2017, 3:19pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 September, 2017, 11:03pm

Japanese hero Sho Kimura has shrugged off reports Chinese superstar Zou Shiming has found himself a new coach in legendary American trainer Robert Garcia, saying it would not matter to him and that he would also “make changes” should they agree on a rematch for the WBO world flyweight title soon.

Former world champion Zou (9-2-0, 2 KOs) is desperate to resurrect his career after losing to the 28-year-old Japanese in his first title defence in one of the biggest upsets of the year.

The Post has learned the ageing 36-year-old Chinese great has attained the services of former Trainer of the Year Garcia to help him return to glory after having his world title snatched in stunning fashion by Kimura in July.

Garcia is best known in Hong Kong as the coach of Brandon Rios, the man who fought and lost to Filipino icon Manny Pacquiao in Macau four years ago.

The two-time Chinese Olympic champion is willing to move to Oxnard, California, where Garcia is based, to try and regain the world title he sensationally lost after an 11th-round technical knockout at the Shanghai Oriental Sports Centre almost six weeks ago.

Watch: Sho Kimura v Zou Shiming full fight for WBO flyweight title

Garcia, 42, was a former IBF junior lightweight title holder and is considered by many one of the world’s leading boxing coaches.

He has so far trained 10 world champions including Rios, Fernando Vargas and Filipino Nonito Donaire in a glittering career, and was named Ring magazine’s Trainer of the Year in 2012.

Beaten Zou Shiming vows to win back world title after shock loss to outsider Sho Kimura

Three-time world amateur champion Zou’s latest move is an ironic twist in his career as he decides to switch to Garcia in a partnership that will surely raise a few eyebrows in the boxing fraternity.

Garcia is a “sworn enemy” of Zou’s former Top Rank coach, Freddie Roach after they had an explosive and ugly confrontation when members of Garcia’s training camp came to blows with Roach in the lead-up to the Rios fight in 2013.

Kimura (15-1-2, 8 KOs) became an instant celebrity in Japan after winning the world title at his first attempt.

He said he was open to a rematch against double Olympic gold medallist Zou but warned the fight was far from being a done deal.

“There are rumours that there will be a rematch but nothing has been discussed,” said Kimura, as he relaxed at Aoki gym in downtown Tokyo.

“It’s my responsibility as champion to accept any challenges. I have no more fights lined up for the moment.

“Nothing has been arranged yet. In the long run, I would love to fight [WBA world flyweight champion] Kazuto Ioka [of Japan].”

Kimura said he would improve his fighting skills from his last world title fight, using “different coaches and tactics” should an opportunity for a rematch against Zou arise.

It hasn’t sunk in yet, says world champion Sho Kimura after huge upset win over Zou Shiming

“If I fight Zou again it will be a different fight. I can’t really say who will win. There’s no sure win,” he said.

The Japanese flyweight said his life has changed forever after lifting the WBO world title in Shanghai as the massive 10-1 underdog.

When I left for Shanghai for the fight, not a single reporter came to see me off. When I returned to Tokyo after lifting the title, there were hordes of reporters and well-wishers.

“It made me very happy. I still work in the restaurant delivering beer but I only work four days a week there instead of six.”

Kimura will travel to Hong Kong as a special guest to attend the Rex Tso-Kohei Kono fight on October 7 at the Convention and Exhibition Centre.

The Japanese flyweight will also come to Hong Kong to support compatriot and teammate Takuya Watanabe, Tso’s training partner for the past several weeks.

Watanabe (32-7-1, 17 KOs), a former featherweight WBC youth champion, will fight on the undercard of Clash of Champions 3 against unheralded Chinese Leshan Li (13-2-1, 8 KOs) for the vacant WBO Oriental super featherweight title.

“I have given Takuya some advice by telling him to use his power and stamina and to keep pressing on the attack,” he said.