Chinese Olympic champion Zou Shiming is under the tutelage of trainer Freddie Roach and promotoer Bob Arum, who both helped Manny Pacquiao to stardom.
With Bob Arum and Freddie Roach by his side Zou Shiming starts down pro boxing path
China's two-time Olympic boxing flyweight champion Zou Shiming makes his professional debut Saturday in Macau, embarking on what he and his ambitious United States promoters hope will be a fast track to a world title.
A household name in his homeland, where boxing was once banned under Mao Zedong, the three-time amateur world champion faces the Mexican fighter Eleazar Valenzuela in a four-round non-title fight.
It ought to be a formality for Zou and anything but a resounding victory, preferably by way of knockout, would be a shock result.
"It's always been a dream of mine to become a professional boxer. Now that I have this opportunity, I want to see if I can become a world champion. That is the goal that I hope to achieve," Zou said.
Zou's trainer, Freddie Roach, has predicted big things for his new charge.
Turning professional at the relatively late age of 31, Zou and Roach know that there is little time to waste.
Zou, who is from Guizhou, southern China, appears to have impressed Roach, who has worked with some of the best in the business.
"He picks things up very quickly and I think he'll be champion in a short time. I told Bob [Arum] that within a year this guy will be the world champion," Roach has said.
"I know that's a fast track, but with his amateur experience, I think that we can go that way."
Zou has signed with Arum's Las Vegas-based Top Rank promotions, with Arum, one of the leading matchmakers in the sport, eyeing the untapped China market and its 1.3 billion population as a potential new frontier.
The highly anticipated Zou debut takes place at the "Fists of Gold" event, held at the 15,000-seat CotaiArena which is part of Sands China's The Venetian resort-hotel.
It will also see Brian Viloria, the WBO/WBA flyweight champion, defend his title against the Mexican Juan Francisco Estrada.
Viloria is a potential future opponent for Zou.
The event is also a chance for the casino enclave of Macau, close to Hong Kong, in southern China, to put itself on the map as a major host of top-class boxing.
The Filipino favourite Manny Pacquiao - another Arum-Roach protege - may fight there this year.
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