Sport Asia
Don't Miss

Boxing: Zou Shiming faces ‘fierce’ test against Colombia’s De La Rosa

Zou Shiming will have a height and reach advantage as he faces his first 10-round contest in the Champions of Gold headlines against experienced Colombian Luis De La Rosa. Photos: Passion Marketing.

Zou Shiming will have a height and reach advantage as he faces his first 10-round contest in the Champions of Gold headlines against experienced Colombian Luis De La Rosa. Photos: Passion Marketing.

July 18, 2014: Zou Shiming puts his world title credentials on the line on Saturday night when the Chinese boxing pioneer faces ‘fierce’ looking Colombian Luis De La Rosa in the Champions of Gold headliner at The Venetian Macao. The pair will fight for the Special Elite WBO International Flyweight Championship.

 

Preparing for his first 10-round bout in his fifth pro fight at Cotai Arena, Zou said he respected De La Rosa’s record (23-3-1, 13 KOs), but hadn’t researched his diminutive opponent – whose listed height is five foot, zero inches – in any great detail.

 

“He’s my strongest opponent so far, but I haven’t really studied him. I’ve been training hard and I’m very confident so I think I’ll be able to win,” said the 33-year-old Zou, the light flyweight champion at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.

 

“He’s just one of my opponents on the way to becoming a world champion. I’ve identified a lot of areas for myself to improve. I don’t know much about my opponent and we haven’t communicated much – although he looks fierce.”

 

De La Rosa, 28, twice fought for WBO interim world titles last year, but lost in March to Merlito Sabillo (Round 8 TKO) at minimumweight and in September to Moises Fuentes (Round 1 TKO) at light flyweight. They were only the second and third defeats for the Colombian, who claimed his 23rd pro victory in November with a second-round knockout over the winless Deivis Narvaez.

 

Zou again has father figure Freddie Roach in his corner as he continues to make the shift from an experienced amateur – he fought in three Olympics and won three World Amateur Championship titles (2005, 2007, 2011) – to potentially fighting for a world title on the Manny Pacquiao undercard in Macau in November.

 

“We have a great relationship. Freddie takes very good care of me, both inside and outside of the ring. He’s almost like a father to me,” said Zou, who earned the first stoppage of his pro career in February with a seventh-round TKO of Thailand’s Yokthong Kokietgym in a scheduled eight-rounder.

 

“My strength and stamina have improved since the last fight. Freddie has picked a few sparring partners who are much heavier than me, at least 120 pounds, to train with me, to increase my strength.”

 

Zou even discussed how he would deal with a loss, saying that winning a world title is just one of his two main quests in his belated pro career, which is being orchestrated by Bob Arum’s Top Rank.

 

“Even if I lose this fight, it won’t change my boxing course,” he said. “As a pro athlete, even if I lose, I have to learn to get up again and step up for another fight, and stay on course. My objective is not only to become a world champion; I hope by fighting I can attract more Chinese to get into the sport of boxing,” said Zou, who trained in Cuba for four weeks in 2007.

 

“I want boxing to be as popular in China as it is in Cuba. The passion over there for boxing is like the passion for table tennis and badminton in China.”

 

Cuba’s Guillermo Rigondeaux, bantamweight gold medallist at the 2000 and 2004 Olympics, defends his WBO and WBA super bantamweight titles against Thai Sod Looknongyantoy.

Cuba’s Guillermo Rigondeaux, bantamweight gold medallist at the 2000 and 2004 Olympics, defends his WBO and WBA super bantamweight titles against Thai Sod Looknongyantoy.

Zou may be the headliner in Macau, but Cuba’s Guillermo Rigondeaux (13-0, 8 KOs) is arguably the best pound-for-pound fighter on Saturday’s card and will compete in the night’s third-last bout.

 

The 33-year-old ‘El Chacal’, who won bantamweight gold at the 2000 and 2004 Olympics, defends his WBO and WBA super bantamweight titles in a 12-rounder against 37-year-old Thai Sod Looknongyantoy (63-2-1, 27 KOs), a two-time world title challenger.

 

The undefeated Rigondeaux is making his 2014 debut, having unified the WBA and WBO 122-pound titles last March by defeating Nonito Donaire in New York, ending the Filipino’s 12-year, 30-bout winning streak, as well as claiming his WBO junior featherweight title.

 

Sod has twice challenged for the WBO junior featherweight title, losing to Daniel De Leon in 2005 and 2006. Since then the Thai has racked up an eight-year, 35-bout unbeaten streak, which has included Asian, WBO Asia-Pacific and WBA Pan Asian 122-pound title victories.

 

In the evening’s penultimate bout, 23-year-old Gilberto Ramirez (28-0, 22 KOs) will seek to maintain his unbeaten record when the towering Mexican defends his NABF super middleweight title against Australian Junior Talipeau. The pair will also fight for the vacant WBO international super middleweight title.

 

Mexico’s Gilberto Ramirez defends his NABF super middleweight title against Australian Junior Talipeau.

Mexico’s Gilberto Ramirez defends his NABF super middleweight title against Australian Junior Talipeau.

Egor Mekhontsev, one of three Olympic gold medallists on the nine-bout card, will open the action at 5.45pm. The six-foot one-inch Russian, light heavyweight champion at London 2012, will bid for a fourth straight knockout win in his first year as a pro when he takes on the five-foot eight-inch Mike Merafuentes in what appears a physical mismatch, much like the Russian’s last appearance in Macau in February when he easily beat Thailand’s Atthaporn Jaritram.

 

In contrast to Zou, Rigondeaux, Ramirez and Mekhontsev, who are all seeking to preserve unbeaten records, former world champion Brian Viloria (34-4-3, 14 KOs) is seeking to revive his career as the 33-year-old Filipino American flyweight faces Mexican Efrain Perez in an early 10-rounder.

 

Viloria, 33, captured his first world title in 2005, becoming the WBC light flyweight champion. In 2008, ‘The Hawaiian Punch’ captured the IBF junior flyweight title and in 2011 moved up a weight division and captured the WBO flyweight title. The following year, he unified the title with a knockout of WBA champion Hernan Marquez, but lost the titles on the Fists of Gold card in Macau last year, losing a split decision to Juan Estrada.

 

Hong Kong’s Rex Tso, China’s ‘Ik’ Yang Lianhui and Macau’s own Ng Kuok Kun compete in the fourth, fifth and sixth bouts respectively as the trio try to preserve their unbeaten records.

 

Russia’s Egor Mekhontsev, light heavyweight champion at London 2012, seeks a fourth straight knockout win when he takes on Mike Merafuentes of the Philippines.

Russia’s Egor Mekhontsev, light heavyweight champion at London 2012, seeks the fourth straight knockout win of his short pro career when he takes on Mike Merafuentes of the Philippines.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login