In a shocker, Japan’s Sho Kimura has won the WBO flyweight title with an 11th round stoppage of Zou Shiming in Shanghai. Shiming was making the first defense of the title he won in November when he out-pointed Prasitsak Phaprom at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas.
Kimura overcame a bad cut over his right eye suffered in the third round. He ended the contest with a flurry of punches that collapsed Shiming as he lay against the ropes. Shiming was clearly exhausted and the referee did away with the formality of a count.
The greatest amateur boxer ever produced by the world’s most populous country, Shiming represented China in three Olympiads, winning bronze in 2004 and then snatching gold medals in 2008 and again in 2012. As the only Chinese boxer to win a gold medal in boxing, he ranked among China’s most exalted athletes. His marriage to popular TV personality Yingying Ran enhanced his profile.
Shiming signed with Top Rank on January 23, 2013 and was placed under the tutelage of Freddie Roach. He came up short in his first stab at a world title, losing a 12-round decision at Macau to defending IBF world flyweight champion Amrat Ruenroeng, a former amateur rival. Twenty months later, he won the vacant WBO world flyweight title with a 12-round decision over Phaprom on the undercard of the fight between Manny Pacquiao and Jessie Vargas. Shiming won every round on two of the scorecards.
The weigh-in for his bout with Phaprom was televised live in China where boxing was banned between 1959 and 1986. Top Rank chief Bob Arum estimated that 100 million Chinese tuned in to watch the Shiming-Phaprom fight which aired at approximately 10 am on a Sunday morning.
A rift subsequently developed between Arum and Shiming. Top Rank was not involved in Shiming’s bout with Sho Kimura. Shiming basically promoted the fight himself.
Zou Shiming has participated in only 11 professional fights but may have reached the end of the road. He turned 36 in May. As for Kimura (15-1-2), whose lone defeat came in his first pro fight, he has many options without leaving Japan. Kazuto Ioka holds the WBA version of the 112-pound title and Toshiyuki Igarashi is rated #1 by the WBO. A mere three pounds separates Kimura and Naoya Inoya who is rated in some quarters the best super flyweight in the world.
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