I hate to state this—Zou Shiming even with his Olympic gold credentials has not yet shone in the professional boxing world. The reason is simple: his record so far is not an impressive six wins and one knockout, with his latest win seeing him struggle a little bit against a smaller fighter from Thailand.
Facing Kwanpichit Onesongchai Gym in the undercard of the Manny Pacquiao-Chris Algieri welterweight title bout in Macau late last month, Zou had the Thai fighter down a few times but could not finish him. Worse, Zou finished with a badly swollen face. If the Thai fighter faced our very own Milan Melindo instead of Zhou, he would have ended in dreamland in below three rounds. Now, what if Zou faced Melindo?
But behold, Zou is reportedly set to get a crack at the International Boxing Federation (IBF) flyweight title held by Amnat Ruenroeng also of Thailand, who cannot be called a marquee champion because he won the last two defenses of his title via split decision. And with a record of 14-0 with five KOs, it is safe to say that Ruenroeng is a “safe” choice for Zou in the Chinese’s quest for a world title.
Ruenrong won the IBF flyweight crown on August 16, 2013 by stopping Takuro Habu who then had a record of 11-7-2.
Looking at The Ring rankings in the flyweight division, Zou isn’t even ranked among the top 10 contenders. Ruenrong ranks fifth, while Brian Villoria is at second place among the top contenders. The Ring flyweight champion is no other than Roman Gonzalez from Nicaragua, who sports an impressive record of 41-0 with 35 KOs.
Zou is actually treading into dangerous waters by aspiring for a world title this early in his career, even if he already past 30. Perhaps China is rushing him to become the very first world boxing champion in the professional ranks. Judging by his latest fight against OnesongchaiGym, he still needs more professional ring experience before entering championship territory.
Definitely Zou is not Guillermo Rigondeaux, the Cuban technician who like Zou won the Olympic gold medal twice. By the time Rigondeaux entered the professional ranks, he had solid skills and respectable punching power which were instrumental in making him win his first world title in just his eighth fight.
Although I do not see Zhou producing an impressive run to what Nonito Donaire and Donnie Nietes had after winning their first world titles, he does have a chance of winning one of the world titles in flyweight or even super flyweight (junior bantamweight). But beating the established names in flyweight like knockout artist Gonzalez is asking for too much.
Another fighter with good credentials in the flyweight division is Juan Francisco Estrada from Mexico, who has a record of 31-2 with 22 KOs. The there’s Villoria, Edgardo Sosa of Mexico (51-8 with 30 KOs) and Juan Carlos Reveco of Argentina (31-1 with 18 KOs).
In the super flyweight champion, The Ring champion for that division has yet to be named. However, the top three contenders are all seasoned warriors: Omar Narvaez of Argentina (43-12 with 23 KOs); Carlos Cuadras of Mexico (31-0-1 with 25 KOs); and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai of Thailand (30-4-1 with 27 KOs). I wonder if Rungvisai is aching to get into the ring against Zou considering the Chinese has beaten a few Thai fighters.
I would give credit to Zou if he beats Ruenrong for he would become the very first Chinese to win a world boxing championship. But winning a championship is just one step, and to be outstanding in a division a boxer must snatch the other titles of the sanctioning bodies (like the World Boxing Council, World Boxing Association, World Boxing Organization and what have you).
Winning world championships in the higher divisions will also make Zou shine, but history has shown that fighters who become multi-weight champions won their first titles at a young age. Good examples here are Pacquiao who won the world flyweight title at 19 years old, Donaire also the flyweight crown at 23 years old, Oscar dela Hoya the super featherweight title at 20 years old, and Floyd Mayweather Jr. also the superfeather-weight championship at 21 years old.
By the way, of the four fighters only Dela Hoya won a gold from the Olympics.