Zou Shiming vs. Luis De La Rosa: Preview and Prediction for Flyweight Bout

Briggs SeekinsFeatured ColumnistJuly 15, 2014

Zou Shiming vs. Luis De La Rosa: Preview and Prediction for Flyweight Bout

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    Ivan Sekretarev/Associated Press

    Saturday in Macau, Olympic gold medalist Zou Shiming resumes his quest to become China's first professional boxing star when he returns to action against Luis De La Rosa of Colombia. This is Shiming's fifth fight as a pro, and the two-time world-title challenger De La Rosa is by far his most experienced opponent.

    Just about every industry in the West looks upon the massive, emerging Chinese economy with hunger. In boxing, Bob Arum and Top Rank have made a bold push to get out in front of their competition. 

    This weekend will be the latest phase of their plan.

Tale of the Tape

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images
    Per Boxrec      Zou Shiming      Luis De La Rosa 
    Record:     4-0, 1 KO      23-3-1, 13 KOs
    Height:     5'4.5"      Unlisted 
    Reach:      Unlisted     Unlisted 
    Weight:      112 lbs      Unlisted 
    Age:      33     Unlisted 
    Stance:     Orthodox     Orthodox
    Hometown:      Zunyi, China     Arboletes, Colombia 
    Rounds      23     114 

    The fact that so much information for Luis De La Rosa is unlisted on Boxrec is a testament to the obscurity of the lowest weight classes. Despite the fact that no information is available about his height and reach, it's a safe bet that he'll be the smaller man in the ring, since he's fought his entire career to date at 105 and 108 pounds.

    De La Rosa is by far the most experienced opponent that Zou Shiming has faced, both in terms of total fights and level of competition. This will also be Shiming's first 10-round fight.

Main Storylines

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    Dennis Ho/Associated Press

    Although he is more than two feet shorter than the basketball superstar, Top Rank would like to make Zou Shiming the boxing version of Yao Ming. China has a billion-plus people and a potential middle class larger than the entire population of North America.

    The resort city of Macau is already becoming a kind of East Asian version of Vegas or Monte Carlo. If the Olympic gold medalist Shiming can become a legitimate star in the professional ranks, there is going to be a lot of money to be made promoting cards in China.

    Shiming has boxing talent and has been developed intelligently by Top Rank. While he's been moving up more quickly than most prospects, there has been prudence on display in choosing his opponents.

    For his first 10-rounder, Shiming is being matched up with veteran Luis De La Rosa, who has fought twice for WBO interim world titles at strawweight and flyweight. De La Rosa is a step up in competition for Shiming, but he shouldn't be an especially dangerous one. He's the smaller man and has been clobbered when fighting at a high level.

    De La Rosa won his last fight by Round 2 KO over 0-20 Deivis Narvaez. Prior to that he was TKO'd in Round 1 by Moises Fuentes when they met for the interim WBO 108-pound belt.

    Before getting stopped by Fuentes, De La Rosa won an eight-round decision over 13-46-6 Alfonso De La Hoz. The fight before that, Merlito Sabillo beat him by Round 8 TKO for the WBO interim 105-pound belt.

    So if Shiming is to meet Top Rank's hope and dreams, De La Rosa is the sort of guy he should be able to beat with relative ease. A smaller man with a history of getting stopped, De La Rosa could even provide Shiming the chance to add a rare knockout to his highlight reel.  

Strengths

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    Dennis Ho/Associated Press

    Zou Shiming has the technical boxing skill you would expect from an Olympic champion. He uses movement very well and fights effectively from the outside, scoring with quick, accurate punches.

    Shiming has decent size for a flyweight, and while that hasn't translated into knockout punching to date, it does allow him to apply pressure when he wants to and helps him avoid being pushed around and bullied on the inside. Like any Olympic gold medalist, he's a great athletic specimen.

    Luis De La Rosa is an athletic fighter with good speed. He has an awkward, ugly style that could cause trouble for a well-taught amateur with very little professional experience. He throws big punches from dangerous angles.

Weaknesses

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    Dennis Ho/Associated Press

    Zou Shiming still seems to punch like an amateur fighter much of the time. He throws quick, scoring punches while on the move instead of sitting down on them and giving them the kind of power they need at the highest levels of the pro game.

    The transition from amateur to professional in boxing has always been a challenge, and Shiming starred during an era when the amateur rules made that side of the sport even more distinct. It's naive to expect his transition to be complete after just four fights and 23 professional rounds.

    Luis De La Rosa is a lunging fighter. Rather than slip into range behind his jab, he tries to leap in behind his lead left hook or looping overhand right.

    This is not such a rare style for a shorter fighter who is trying to close range. But against a great technician who can jab and move laterally, it's a dangerous strategy.

Zou Shiming Will Win If...

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    Dennis Ho/Associated Press

    Zou Shiming is going to be the longer and bigger fighter here, so he should have little trouble keeping the action on the outside and fighting at his preferred range. He should be able to use the jab and straight right to stop Luis De La Rosa's movement and slip out of his way.

    De La Rosa will be winging the big shots from far away, so Shiming should see them coming. Simply paying attention and staying alert will be an important part of what the Chinese star needs to do.

    Against Moises Fuentes, De La Rosa showed a bad habit of ducking into range for the uppercut when he attempted to slip straight punches. Shiming should try to catch him with this on Saturday.

    A win is expected for Shiming on Saturday, but a stoppage would be good for his career. He should make a point to sit down on his punches and make them the kind of blows that break an opponent down.  

Luis De La Rosa Will Win If...

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    Luis De La Rosa is being brought in as an opponent. But that also means he is getting a rare opportunity for worldwide exposure for a fighter of his size and weight.

    He is going to need to force the fight into his own range, so he'll have to move through the danger zone of Shiming's superior reach. I hope De La Rosa has been working on a jab—a punch I didn't see him throw once in his Round 1 stoppage loss to Moises Fuentes.

    Leaping hooks and lunging overhand rights will also give De La Rosa a chance to get inside on Shiming. But Shiming knows how to move, so those punches will make De La Rosa vulnerable if he is not very aware of where he's going to land with his feet. 

    De La Rosa will need to be a smart offensive fighter. That means not just throwing punches, but throwing punches that leave him in good position to throw the next punch.   

Prediction

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    Dennis Ho/Associated Press

    Top Rank has too much invested in Zou Shiming's success to match him up this early with an obscure fighter who has a legitimate chance to beat him. That doesn't mean Luis De La Rosa won't come in trying to win, though.

    But De La Rosa looked small against Moises Fuentes at 108 pounds. At 112, I just don't think he'll have the skill or size to hang with a talent like Shiming.

    Shiming has stopped just one of his first four opponents, but De La Rosa looks like a guy who will go down. He's already been stopped in fights at 105 and 108 pounds.

    This is a 10-round fight, so Shiming will have the chance to pop away at De La Rosa for a lot of rounds. As a result, a stoppage is very likely to come before the final bell rings. I'm looking for Shiming to win by TKO in seven.

    I don't think Shiming has the talent and punching ability of a fighter like newly minted WBO featherweight champion Vasyl Lomachenko, so I expect it will still be awhile before he truly steps up to the world-class level.

    But for now at least, Shiming's star will continue to rise.