By Dan Rafael ESPN.com
Three-time Chinese Olympic medalist Zou Shiming, the most decorated Chinese amateur boxer, is turning professional under the promotion of Top Rank’s Bob Arum.
After promoting Saturday’s Mikey Garcia-Orlando Salido featherweight title fight in New York on Saturday, Arum left for Beijing on Sunday and on Wednesday announced the signing of Zou at a news conference there.
“Zou is an incredible talent who is beloved in the People’s Republic of China,” Arum said. “We at Top Rank will make every effort to make certain that he has a spectacular career as a professional boxer.”
Zou, 31, won light flyweight Olympic gold at the 2012 London Games and 2008 Beijing Games — where he became a national hero — as well as a bronze medal at the 2004 Athens Games.
Zou, who has said that Muhammad Ali is his boxing hero, is also a three-time gold medalist at the World Amateur Championships, winning in 2005, 2007 and 2011.
He was the first Chinese Olympic boxing medalist as well as his country’s first gold medalist in the Olympics and World Amateur Championships.
Arum announced that Zou will make his professional debut on April 6 at the Venetian Macao Resort Hotel in Macau. Arum has long been looking to penetrate the Asian market and for years has talked about putting on boxing events in Macau, the Asian casino hotbed.
“We are extremely grateful to the Sands China Ltd. for its great cooperation in this venture to launch the professional career of this great young athlete,” Arum said.
Discussions between Zou and Top Rank began before Christmas, Top Rank vice president Carl Moretti told ESPN.com.
Moretti said that the April 6 card will be built around Zou’s pro debut but could also include a defense by flyweight titleholder Brian Viloria (32-3, 19 KOs), a Filipino-American from Hawaii. Moretti said the show might also include fighters from the Philippines who are part of Manny Pacquiao’s stable.
“We’re trying to figure out the production and TV and the rest of the card now,” Moretti said.