MACAU – Freddie Roach knows a potential champion when he sees one.
And while Zou Shiming, his new prized pupil, won't fight in his first professional match until Saturday night, the Hall of Fame trainer can already see China’s first Olympic boxing gold medalist winning a world title in one year's time.
“We’ve got a talent here. Within one year I predict he will be a world champion,” said Roach, the man credited for turning Filipino Manny Pacquiao from a raw, one-dimensional fighter to the legendary, eight-time world champion that he is today.
Roach will be on Shiming’s corner when the 31-year-old Chinese boxing hero climbs the ring for the first time as a pro against Mexican Eleazar Valenzuela to headline the first major boxing card in this Chinese territory that also features our very own Brian Viloria, the reigning word flyweight champion.
Shiming won the gold medal in the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympics and bagged three gold medals in the Aiba World Championships that include a victory over Filipino Harry Tanamor during the 48-kg final in 2007 in Chicago.
He has fought for so long as an amateur fighter that not a few are concerned he may have waited too long to turn pro.
Roach doesn’t see any problem with that.
“He can be fast-tracked because he’s so experienced. He learned to be a pro fighter very well,” said the 53-year-old former fighter turned champion trainer.
Roach also has great words for the olympic champion's work ethic, something which he said makes a world champion.
“He just amazes me every day. The harder I push him, the harder he works. And I love that in a fighter,” said the owner of the famed Wild Card boxing gym.
“That’s why he’ll become a champion because he has the desire, a great material to work with. Thanks Zou for being a good student.”
Shiming made the weight on Friday during the official weigh-in for his fight, coming in at 111 lbs.