This weekend in Macau, China, Filipino superstar Manny Pacquiao meets Mexican-American Brandon Rios on pay-per-view. But the host nation will be represented on the card as well, as two-time Olympic gold medalist Zou Shiming faces Juan Tozcano in a flyweight bout.
Six-round flyweight fights are not generally part of a $70 pay-per-view broadcast, but Top Rank views Shiming as a special case. It's clear that Bob Arum has designs on being the Western promoter who opens up the Chinese market, and the former amateur standout is his poster boy for the project.
Read on for a preview and prediction of Shiming vs. Tozcano.
|Per Boxrec||Zou Shiming||Juan Tozcano|
|Record:||2-0, 0 KOs||4-0, 1 KO|
|Weight:||112 pounds||112 pounds|
|Hometown:||Zunyi, China||Ensenada, Baja California|
Boxrec only has the record and hometown listed for Juan Tozcano. That's not necessarily surprising. He's a light flyweight who has fought just four times and only once outside of his home state.
It's hard to get more obscure than that. Still, this weekend, he'll fight in front of millions of television viewers around the globe.
At 32, Zou Shiming is pretty long in the tooth to be starting a professional boxing career. But Top Rank is banking on his exceptional amateur background to give him the spring he needs to leapfrog up the rankings.
Zou Shiming is the greatest amateur boxer in Chinese history and has been one of the top pound-for-pound Olympians of this century. He won a bronze medal at the 2004 Games and gold in both 2008 and 2012.
He made his professional debut last April, winning a four-rounder by unanimous decision. He won a six-round fight in July. Both of his two professional fights have been in Macau.
Top Rank signed him since he went pro, and Freddie Roach has tutored him for the professional ranks. Bob Arum and company are banking on him becoming the Yao Ming of professional boxing.
If Shiming helps popularize professional boxing in his home country the way that Ming did for the NBA, he could end up being among the most influential boxers of the 21st century.
But honestly, I don't think Shiming and Ming are a good comparison. Ming was a gigantic center who at times dominated the professional ranks in America. Shiming is a talented flyweight, which is a division that rarely gets attention even among serious boxing fans in the United States.
Zou Shiming has an elite amateur background and excellent boxing skills. He has terrific footwork and controls distance well. His has fast hands and good timing, and his punches are accurate.
Perhaps even more important is the experience that comes along with participating in three Olympic tournaments. Shiming has been fighting in high-profile fights for more than a decade.
Juan Tozcano has had four professional fights, and I have seen none of them. I've been unable to even locate video on him.
He's a light flyweight from Baja California, so I'll go out on a ledge and guess that he's a high-volume puncher who comes forward and engages.
Zou Shiming has been working with Freddie Roach and his staff for over a year now. His last fight showed evidence that he is trying to punch more like a professional by sitting down on his punches to generate real scoring power.
But in his first two fights, his punches have appeared to lack significant power.
Juan Tozcano finds himself in a unique position for a fighter with his background and experience. He's fighting an opponent with more than a decade of international experience on a huge stage.
Whatever other weaknesses Tozcano might have, his lack of overall experience will be a challenge for him to overcome.
The biggest overall risk for Zou Shiming is that he might let the pressure of the big stage get to him and try to do too much. But that seems unlikely to me.
He has been fighting in big-time, international fights for years now as an amateur.
He could never have won two Olympic gold medals without beating better, more experienced fighters than Juan Tozcano. This fight should require no special effort from Shiming.
Juan Tozcano is being brought in here as an opponent. He's the biggest afterthought on this entire card.
He has nothing to lose, and it's a major opportunity for him to grab headlines early in his career. Fighters don't usually get this kind of chance in their fifth fight.
So he might as well go for it. Tozcano should go heavy from the bell, looking to stun Zou Shiming and get him in trouble.
He needs to demand respect and force Shiming into a firefight.
This is the first time I've ever written a preview for a bout featuring two men with a mere half-dozen fights between them. But Zou Shiming is not a typical flyweight prospect.
I am far from convinced that he is destined to become a major star in North America. But his basic boxing skills can't be denied, and his years of international experience give him a huge edge over any normal fighter just starting out.
I'm sure Juan Tozcano will show up looking to win. But I'd be shocked if he did it.
My prediction is Shiming in a six-round shutout, 60-54 on all three cards.