By Tim Smith
The clock is quickly ticking for Zou Shiming. It started the day the Chinese Olympic gold medal winner turned pro at the age of 32 in April 2013.
Every fight is a major step up for Zou and his progress is carefully measured by trainer Freddie Roach. Zou (4-0, 1 KOs) will take a giant leap forward when he takes on Luis De La Rosa (23-3-1, 13 KOs) at the Cotai Arena at the Venetian Resort in Macau, China on HBO2 on Saturday night.
De La Rosa, a hard-hitting veteran from Barranquilla, Colombia, has fought for the world championship three times, coming up short each time. But he is a tough competitor and has a vast amount of ring experience under his belt. For Zou, it is his first time fighting in a scheduled 10-round match.
"It may be unusual to move this fast to a 10-round fight but I have confidence in my team and if they think I'm ready, then I will be ready,'' Zou said. "I am not nervous about facing a vastly more experienced fighter like De La Rosa. I'm very excited about the opportunity. He is the type of fighter I need to beat to earn a world title shot."
Zou is coming off a seventh round stoppage of Yokthong Kokietgym of Thailand –
his first career stoppage. De La Rosa scored a knockout of his own in the second round against Deivis Narvaez in November.
"Shiming has come a long way in a very short time,'' Roach said. "I have seen quite a few amateurs take up to four years to learn the pro style. Shiming has done it in 15 months. He is getting the pro style of fighting down a lot quicker than previous Olympians I've worked with. The big difference is now he knows he must increase his lead as opposed to protecting a lead, which is what he was taught as an amateur.''
One thing to keep an eye on in this fight is whether Zou can keep from reverting to his amateur style. Roach has been trying to his charge to stop slapping with his punches and to try to get more leverage on them.
"The key for Shiming is to hurt De La Rosa early and set a fast pace for the fight after that,'' Roach said. "Shiming's power has really developed. He has discovered power he never knew he had. His jab sets up an overhand right that is killer. He is sitting down on his punches. His combinations are outstanding. When he lands his power punches with 112 pounds behind them, Shiming will make his point to De La Rosa that he belongs."
If he can do that, then his promoter should have the confidence to go ahead and make a championship fight between Zou and Amnat Ruenroeng, the IBF flyweight champion from Thailand, in Macau in November.
In the co-feature, Gilberto Ramirez, one of the top young super middleweight contenders in the game, will take on Junior Talipeau (20-2-1, 7 KOs). Ramirez (28-0, 22 KOs) is on a fast-track to stardom, and the fact that he's a power-punching southpaw only adds to his crowd-pleasing style.
In his last fight, the native of Mazatlan, Mexico blasted veteran brawler Giovanni Lorenzo, stopping him on a fifth round TKO. It was the third consecutive stoppage victory for the 23-year-old Ramirez. Talipeau, a 30-year-old veteran from New South Wales, Australia, is coming off a unanimous decision victory over Walter Javier Crucce last August. It was his third straight victory (two by knockout) since being handed a split decision loss by Zac Awad in 2011 – just the second of his career. Talipeau has never been stopped.