By Unus Alladin
Chinese star Zou Shiming will be fighting for a larger piece of the pie as a boxer turned promoter, while Japanese underdog Sho Kimura will be fighting in his late mother’s honour in Friday night’s eagerly anticipated WBO flyweight title fight in Shanghai.
Zou recently turned to promoting his own fight after severing links with American promoter Top Rank last year and he will be out to make a good start to this new phase of his career in his first defence of the world title he won in Las Vegas last November.
But Kimura (14-1-2, 7 KOs) warned he will be highly motivated – driven by a desire to honour his mother who died at the age of 44 as he was growing up. He said her passing had motivated him to “train harder than before”. The 28-year-old Tokyo-based fighter also said winning was the only way to “get out of poverty” and live a “financially stable life”.
“I come from a poor family. I can’t even afford a new pair of training shoes,” said Kimura, who spent weeks in Thailand to prepare for the fight at the Shanghai Oriental Sports Centre. Zou tipped the scales at 111.9 pounds, while Kimura was a little lighter at 111.6 pounds, well within the 112-pound limit at Thursday’s official weigh-in.
“Zou Shiming will find out that it’s not going to be easy to beat me. I come from Japan and we are tough warriors. Zou is well known in China, but I can be well known and famous if I beat him. I must take this opportunity and win. Once I start, I am not going to stop until I win. The crowd might get behind Zou, but that’s going to motivate me even more,” he said.
Kimura spoke about growing up in poverty and his struggles to make ends meet.
“I have been struggling all my life. I have been using the same gloves for years and I can’t buy a new pair. The gloves I am wearing are still good even though they are worn out. I do part-time work in a restaurant where I help the restaurant deliver [crates of] beer. If I win this bout, I will quit that job,” said Kimura, who lost his first professional fight in 2013 but has been on an unbeaten streak since.
“I’m going to win this belt and take it home and put it on my mother’s grave. When I won the WBO Asia Pacific flyweight title [last November in Osaka] I put my belt on my mother’s grave. But this one is for the world championship. This one is much more prestigious,” he said.
Kimura is known to Hong Kong fans as he was on the undercard of the Rex Tso vs Hirofumi Mukai clash in March. The Japanese won that fight in a second-round knockout against Thailand’s Wisitsak Saiwaewk.
However, the 36-year-old Zou (9-1-0, 2 KOs) was extremely confident of winning his latest fight, saying he won’t allow the belt to leave China.
“I won this belt in America [Las Vegas] last year. It’s staying here. It’s not going anywhere,” said the two-time Olympic gold medallist as he showed off his belt. “I have never lost to a Japanese opponent [in amateur fights] before. This time, the result will be the same. Kimura might be eight years younger than me, but I will speak with my fists. I will teach the younger boxer a good lesson.”