Zou hits new high in his US debut

Updated: 2016-06-13 02:32

By William Hennelly in New Yok and Sun Xiaochen in Beijing (Agencies)

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Zou hits new high in his US debut

Zou Shiming (left) and Jozsef Ajtai exchange punches in their flyweight bout on June 11, 2016 at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City. [Photo/chinadaily.com.cn]

Despite a relatively low-quality bout, Zou Shiming's victorious overseas debut on Saturday should pave the way for Chinese boxing to join the sport's international mainstream.

The two-time Olympic gold medalist scored a 10-round unanimous decision over 19-year-old Hungarian Jozsef Ajtai at Madison Square Garden, New York, making his career record 8-1 since turning professional after the London Games in 2012.

The 35-year-old flyweight's first overseas fight as a pro attracted tens of millions of Chinese fans to watch live at home on TV and via online streaming platforms.

Zou said he felt blessed after winning at the iconic New York venue, which is where his idol, the late Muhammad Ali, fought several times.

"It's definitely different from all my previous fights, as I fought on the center stage that every pro boxer dreams of," said Zou, who has risen to prominence from a village in Guizhou province. "I hope I can prove that a Chinese can succeed on the highest stage of pro boxing. I also want to honor my idol Ali with this victory."

Ali, the former three-time heavyweight champion, died on June 3 in Arizona due to complications from Parkinson's disease. He was 74.

Although Zou's fight on Saturday was cheered by a group of more than 100 Chinese fans, it was far from an exciting battle due to his opponent's defensive style, which saw Ajtai stroll around the ring to avoid head-on contact with Zou.

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