Promoter Bob Arum yesterday said they expect a record-breaking television audience of 200,000 million in China when two-time Olympic boxing gold medalist Zou Shiming makes his professional debut in Macau on Saturday.
The championship card in Macau is officially bannered by Brian Viloria’s defense of his WBO/WBA flyweight title.
Brian goes up against challenger Juan Francisco Estrada of Mexico for 12 rounds.
Zou boxes Eleazar Valenzuela, also from Mexico, in four rounds.
“But there’s not a single picture, not a single mention of Viloria,” noted a top national amateur boxing official upon returning from Macau last week.
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Viloria should be paid a little more than what he got when he stopped Hernan “Tyson” Marquez last November.
Zou, 31, will get $300,000, a world record for a four-rounder.
Needless to say, Zou makes it as the main draw of the Macau card, another record for a former amateur fighting in his first pro bout.
But the promoters, the salesmen of the unique promotion couldn’t care less.
They couldn’t be blamed either.
They must’ve found the effort sweet and sassy as offering free fresh shrimp cocktail on a dry evening.
There has never been anything like this for the sports-loving Chinese.
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This is not making a mountain out of a molehill, or poising a shorter, if promising star cager as a future Yao Ming.
Zou, 31, has been a man mountain in his country since winning his first Olympic gold in hometown Beijing in 2008, before repeating the feat in 2012.
Quoting trainer Freddie Roach, who has worked with Zou at the Wild Card Gym, the China People’s Daily said “Zou Shiming can be a world champion in a very short time, based on his vast amateur experience.”
Roach had said Zou “is good student with great talent who picks up things very quickly.”
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Of course, the People’s Daily had nothing on Zou’s opponent who, going by the reputation of the main organizers, should be a perfect usher to Zou’s speed and skills.
There will be no upset. This sales package has been perfected to break through a country of “1.4 billion people with growing interest in boxing.”
In fact, Arum had allowed himself to get carried away and announced Zou should figure in a world championship next year.
“Viloria can retain his title and Zou progresses, which means Brian will defend his crown sometime next year and it will be by far the biggest pay day in Brian’s career,” Arum was quoted as saying in a radio interview over Australia.
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Arum called Zou phenomenal.
Arum also vowed he would make sure that Zou soon can go 12 rounds at full speed.
But shouldn’t Mr. Arum be told that practically the entire boxing world has readily wondered how he could turn a fresh four-round pro fighter into an instant world champion, in a year’s time at that?.
No, the China People’s Daily did not bother to comment or disagree with Arum.
But, in an honest and objective manner, it said:
“Zou’s success came through his fast hands and quick body movements; but boxing analysts caution he may run into trouble against heavy punching professionals.”
Arum, tested but seldom trusted, could turn into the greatest wonder of the boxing world.
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(HAIL: My young friend Gio Reyes, son of Dr. Ruel Reyes of San Pablo City, graduated at the top of his high school class at the Canossa College, San Pablo. In his last text message, he said: “Tito, hope we could continue with our gift-giving for poor farm kids in Pangao, Lipa.” We will, by all means. Thanks.)