It hasn’t sunk in yet, says world champion Sho Kimura after huge upset win over Zou Shiming
Japanese ‘no hoper’ reveals his vision was obscured by a cut eye but he knew he was going to wear down the tiring Chinese fighter and score an upset victory
Newly crowned world champion Sho Kimura said he was living the dream and that his huge upset victory against China superstar Zou Shiming still hadn’t sunken in as the Japanese returned to a hero’s welcome over the weekend.
Kimura became Japan’s 11th active boxer to currently hold a world title after he stopped China’s two-time Olympic gold medallist in the 11th round of their 12-round World Boxing Organisation (WBO) flyweight world title bout at the Shanghai Oriental Sports Centre.
“I can’t believe I have done it. My dream was to win the world title,” said 28-year-old Kimura, who was met by a horde of reporters and well-wishers upon his return to Tokyo.
Watch: Sho Kimura knocks out Zou Shiming in the 11th round
“I’ve only slept an hour after winning the fight. The feeling of winning is surreal. It still hasn’t sunk in but it will after a few days. I am proud to have the world championship belt,” he said.
Kimura’s massive upset win on Friday night gives Japan three out of the four belts in the flyweight division, joining Daigo Higa (WBC) and Kazuto Ioka (WBA) as world title holders.
Kimura’s win, described as one of the biggest upsets in Japanese boxing history, was so much more gratifying as he overcame a vociferous 9,000-plus pro-Chinese crowd. He also fought with a cut right eye for almost 11 rounds.
“I couldn’t really see after my eye was cut in the third round [from an accidental head butt],” revealed Kimura.
“I had few supporters in the stadium against so many for Zou Shiming. But I had the confidence to win. I knew I had to give it my all even when I was hurt, even when I couldn’t really see properly.
“That was a setback at first and something I had not expected. There was so much blood pouring out from my right eye that it was obscuring my vision.
“I had to move forward and I kept piling the pressure and kept punching.
“When I sensed Zou Shiming was getting tired, I just knew that was my chance. I backed him against the ropes and let him have it. I couldn’t stop. I just knew he was going to go down, he was exhausted,” said Shimura. “I was still feeling good in the 11th round and was ready to go the distance.”
Kimura, who raised his record to 15-1-2, also delivered on his promise by winning in honour of his late mother, who died when he was just 20 years old.
The Tokyo-based fighter said he was struggling financially and that he was working part-time delivering beer in a restaurant. But he’s likely to quit his job as he looks forward to a lucrative career as the new world champion.
“When I won the [WBO] Asia-Pacific belt, I put the belt on my mother’s grave. I am going to put this belt on my mother’s grave,” said Kimura, who lost his mother when he was 20 years old.