Zou Shiming may not be the real deal as far as creating a superstar fighter goes, and he may never be a world champion, but the 32-year-old is already a superstar attraction, helping draw another strong crowd to Top Rank's Ring of Gold card in Macao this morning. And in the main event, he delivered what he couldn't in his first three pro fights: a stoppage win.
In a fight scheduled for eight rounds, Zou (4-0, 1 KO) managed to put the finishing touches on overmatched but tough Yokthong Kokietgym (15-4, 11 KO) of Thailand, putting the opponent down three times in the round, and showing off some good hand speed in the process.
Overall, it was a par for the course, B-grade sort of performance from Shiming, who may be making minor strides as a pro fighter, but nothing particularly noticeable. His role is more as a poster boy for boxing's expansion into the Chinese market, which is fine. Top Rank have consistently put together good, exciting cards, and Zou Shiming is the cherry on top for the "local" fans. They're excited for his fights pretty much no matter what he does. And they react to the good fights on these undercards, too. All in all, it's a winning strategy. It's pro boxing done well.
But when I watch Zou fight, personally I just don't see any high-level future for him. He's not young and as we've said several times dating back to the 2012 Olympics, his decline between 2008 and 2012 was pretty big. His gold in Beijing was not controversial, but he got at least one debatable (if not outright gifted) decision in London, and I didn't think he was the best fighter in the weight class that year.
Of course, a lot more has been made of a lot less with boxing in recent years. Zou can box, and he doesn't lack effort or anything like that. And he does sell tickets. He's an attraction. And in this unique position, that's the most important thing. One way or the other, Zou Shiming is a fighter who can be called Good For Boxing, an elusive thing in 2014. He's given the sport and his opponents no black eyes, and he's been the main catalyst in a so far highly successful experiment to bring big-time boxing to a new market.