'Great Wall' takes a hit at US heavyweight boxing
Updated: 2014-08-27 09:51
Taishan Dong works with coach John Bray at the Glendale Fighting Club, north of Los Angeles. At 6 feet 11 inches tall, Taishan towers over opponents. [Photo/Agencies]
In boxing, it's not often that the first fight of the night gets a lot of attention. But at Longshoreman's Hall in San Francisco last month, the fans, the announcers, even the viewers watching the broadcast on FOX Sports One were all
|Iron girl's boxing dream|
"Tonight he makes his professional debut and joins us from Beijing, China," chimed the announcer. "Here is The Great Wall: Taishan!"
Taishan Dong is a mountain of a man in every sense of the word. His name comes from Mount Taishan, one of China's five sacred mountains. At 6 feet 11 and 285 pounds, the 26-year-old Chinese boxer towers over his opponents in the ring.
Announcers call him the Great Wall. His promoters call him the soon-to-be Yao Ming of American boxing. But JianJun Dong — his real name — just prefers Taishan, because someday he hopes to tower over the sport of heavyweight boxing like Mount Taishan over China's Shandong province.
Dong says he hiked to the top of Mount Taishan six years ago and liked the feeling he got looking down.
"I want to feel that way with boxing," he said through an interpreter.
Heavyweight Boxing's Next Big Thing?
The stage is set for a new challenger in the sport's marquee division.
There's an old adage in boxing: "As goes the heavyweight division, so goes the boxing business." Lately — here, in the US — the going has been slow.
For the better part of the past decade, the world heavyweight scene had been dominated by two Ukrainian brothers, Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko. Vitali has retired and is now the mayor of Kiev. Wladimir, 38, is said to be nearing retirement. Below him, there are no clear successors.
That's got every promoter in the sport looking for the next big thing. Physically, Dong certainly qualifies. He has signed with Golden Boy Promotions, one of the largest promoters in the sport.
At Longshoreman's Hall, Dong went to work on his opponent, the 6-foot-3 Alex Rozman. In the second round, a jab to the top of Rozman's head knocked the former bodybuilder to the mat and out of the fight.
"[His punch] is a battering ram," says John Bray, Dong's trainer.