SHANGHAI: China’s double Olympic gold medalist Zou Shiming will get his first professional world title shot against International Boxing Federation (IBF) flyweight title holder Amnat Ruenroeng in Macau in March, it was announced Wednesday.
Zou (6-0, 1 KO) will be up against a familiar foe in the unbeaten Thai Ruenroeng (14-0, 5 KOs).
The pair fought three titanic battles during their amateur careers, with Zou winning on the last two occasions. This included a 5-2 points decision in the 2010 Asian Games light flyweight semifinals as the Chinese fighter went on to win gold.
Zou told reporters in Shanghai he expects another tough, tight contest at the Venetian Macau venue on March 7.
“When we were fighting as amateur boxers, I think we were at the same level, in terms of strength,” Zou said.
“Now that he’s a world champion, he’s definitely getting stronger, but I’m improving as well,” added Zou, who is coming off his most impressive victory to date — a 12-round demolition of another Thai, Kwanpichit Onesongthaigym, in a final eliminator for the world title on the Manny Pacquiao-Chris Algieri undercard in Macau last month.
Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum said Zou, the poster boy for boxing in China from Guizhou, deserved his world title shot, despite only having six fights and having been a professional for just 23 months.
“Zou has earned his right to fight for a professional world championship belt,” said Arum, 82, who has promoted some of the world’s greatest fighters from Muhammad Ali to Manny Pacquiao in a career spanning 50 years.
Zou is currently ranked number four by the World Boxing Association (WBA) and the World Boxing Organization (WBO).
Zou became one of the world’s greatest amateur boxers, capturing gold medals in the World Amateur Championships in 2005, 2007 and 2011, gold medals at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics and a bronze at the 2004 Games in Athens. He turned pro after his gold at London 2012.
Ruenroeng came to boxing via an altogether different route — on a prison boxing programme that saw him become a national amateur champion in 2007 while still serving 15 years for robbery. His boxing success earned him an early release.
Ruenroeng turned pro in 2012 after failing to make Thailand’s 2012 Olympic team. He captured the vacant IBF flyweight title in January with a unanimous decision over Rocky Fuentes and has defended it twice since. AFP