Bob Arum's Chinese cash cow Zou Shiming (6-0, 1 KO) looks all set for a potentially lucrative showdown with IBF flyweight title holder Amnat Ruenroeng (14-0, 5 KOs) of Thailand in March of 2015 at the Venetian Resort in Macau.
The South China Morning Post has the scoop as well as a few choice quotes from Zou on the matchup:
"When we were fighting as amateurs, I think we were at the same level, in terms of strength," said Zou.
"Now that he's a world champion, he's definitely getting stronger, but I'm improving as well. One thing for sure is that the fight will be absolutely captivating."
As Shiming alludes to in the above quote, these two have history; Shiming twice beat Ruenroeng in the amateurs (once in the semi-finals of the Asian Games, forcing Ruenroeng to settle for bronze) and although Shiming was by far the more talented of the two, picking up two Olympic gold medals and three World Championship golds, the Thai won their first bout back at the 2007 King's Cup.
Although a storied amateur career is seen as an indicator of pro potential, so is a successful Muay Thai career. Ruenroeng was a Rajadamnern Stadium champion in Muay Thai, as were Veeraphol Sahaprom and Saensak Muangsurin, who went on to claim World titles in boxing within five fights, showing that experience in 'the science of eight limbs' is good preparation for 'the sweet science'.
It took Ruenroeng a little longer than it took for Sahaprom or Muangsurin, as he won the IBF 112lb strap in his 12th fight with a decision over Rocky Fuentes, but he pulled off a minor upset earlier this year when he beat the undefeated and highly touted former 105 and 108lb champ Kazuto Ioka by decision in Japan.
He's coming off a successful defence against McWilliams Arroyo, although he had to get off the deck to win.
Shiming's last fight was on the undercard of Manny Pacquiao vs. Chris Algeiri last month, where he won a clear decision over Ruenroeng's compatriot Kwanpichit Onesongchaigym.
So how do you see this one going? Can Shiming overcome his lack of power and win a boxing match with the champ? Or will Ruenroeng's greater pro experience prove telling now these two don't have head guards and bigger gloves on?