I’m not ready to quit the ring ... boxing is an old friend, says recovering Chinese star Zou Shiming
Two-time Olympic champion, who held the WBO world flyweight title, says he wants to continue fighting but career in jeopardy as he tries to recover from left eye injury
Recovering Chinese boxing star Zou Shiming says he’s not ready to throw in the towel and retire from the ring and if he was forced to quit, it would be like saying “goodbye to an old friend”.
The two-time Olympic gold medallist was asked by Sina Sports in Shanghai this week whether he would hang up his gloves after sustaining optic nerve and bone socket injuries to his left eye in December.
Zou was rushed to hospital after attending the Laureus China sports awards in Beijing after suddenly losing sight in his eye on the flight home to Shanghai.
The Zunyi-born boxer, who turns 37 in May, said the odds of returning are stacked against him but he refused to give up.
“It will be a very difficult [decision to make] and it would be like bidding farewell to an old friend whom you have known for more than 20 years. To be honest, I don’t have the courage to do this [quit the ring] at the moment,” he said. “But if I am really forced to do so, I think there are a lot of other roles I can play in boxing such as working with the China Boxing Association or training the young Chinese boxers so that they can fulfil their dreams just like I’ve fulfilled my dreams.”
Zou’s career hit a low point when he failed to retain his WBO flyweight title last July, losing to Japanese underdog, Sho Kimura, in his hometown in Shanghai, in his last fight. His eye injury was the latest blow to the three-time former world champion, whose career has hit a fork in the road.
“My sporting career is quite perfect,” said Zou who is still receiving treatment on his left eye since leaving hospital in January. “Not all Olympic gold medallists can say they have become a professional world title holder and vice versa. I am so happy to have witnessed Chinese boxing rising from the ashes and for achieving Olympic honour for my country and then winning a professional world title. I know a boxer’s ability is limited and an athlete’s career is not very long.”
Zou is weighing his options on the treatment process for his eye, including the possibility of undergoing surgery but he’s not sure what he will do.
“My optic nerve [in his left eye] has been injured since 2014 and it’s been deteriorating. Even the doctors cannot tell me if I can fully recover if I opt for surgery. That’s why I am still considering what’s best for me,” said the boxer, who has a 9-2 professional record with just two knockouts.
Zou burst into prominence as a bronze medal winner at the 2004 Athens Olympics before winning gold at the 2008 Beijing Games in the flyweight division. He went on to defend his gold medal at the London Games in 2012 before turning professional in January 2013.
He held the world flyweight title after defeating Prasitsak Phaprom, of Thailand, in Las Vegas in November 2016 before losing it to Kimura nine months later in a massive upset.