ZOU SHIMING has to win on Saturday (March 7). China’s most popular boxer by far, the double Olympic medallist fights for his first world title against Amnat Ruenroeng, the IBF flyweight champion, in Macau. Top Rank’s ambitious project to break into China, potentially a huge market, depends entirely on Shiming. But his trainer, Freddie Roach insists the Chinese star can deal with the weight of expectation.
“I don’t see any pressure he’s handling it very well. He had a great workout [yesterday]. He was a pound under weight. He’s never not made weight in his life, so it’s not a problem. The opponent we have is a little more experienced. They fought in the amateurs, he’s had a lot more experience as a professional. He has long arms and so forth, he’s a bit of a counter-puncher, he fights off the backfoot quite a bit. I think Shiming’s speed, his quick jab is really going to control the pace of the fight for us,” Roach told Boxing News. “The way to beat this guy, he has long arms and so forth but he is mostly a counter-puncher, he fights off the backfoot quite a bit. I think right down the middle Shiming can beat him with the one-two, a double jab. But he can’t stay in the pocket for more than two punches. Two punches out, make him miss – because the guy counters – two punches, make him miss, then back in quickly. I think our strategy’s pretty good for this guy, I’ve studied him quite a bit.”
Roach has had to build up his rapport with Shiming in an accelerated timeframe. “He knows what I want. We’re on the same page,” Freddie explained. “He fought this guy three times before, so they have history but I had a long talk with him about how he can’t fight this guy like he did in the amateurs because that was a long time ago and that was only three rounds. I said you have to fight a much different fight in this one. He’s had a little more experience as a professional and he’s a little more seasoned pro than Shiming is.”