Earlier today in Shanghai we saw the official announcement of the worst kept secret in professional boxing. The announcement, from Shanghai, confirmed that IBF Flyweight champion Amnat Ruenroeng (14-0, 5) would be defending his world title against former amateur rival Zou Shiming (6-0, 1) on March 7th. Officially stating what everyone already knew regarding the bout.
The contest sees the two men facing off against each other for the 4th time. As amateurs it was Shiming who took the spoils winning 2 of their 3 contests though it the professional games things are of course different.
As an amateur Shiming was viewed as a modern great. He was a 3 time Olympic medal winner, including successive gold medals, a 3-time world champion and a double Asian games champion. Amnat, although a successful amateur, was no where as successful as the Chinese fighter.
As professional however it's Ruenroeng who has really impressed. The Thai won a world title in just his 12th professional bout, beating Rocky Fuentes, as he raced away to a world title in just over 20 months of his debut. Since then he has defended the title twice. Shiming on the other hand has been a professional for a little more than 18 months and although he has been on an advanced trajectory it'll be almost 2 years between his debut and this world title bout.
This bout is set to make, or break, the career of both men and although neither is considered a top pound-for-pound fighter it could be the most significant bout held in the division in a long time. A win for Shiming could speed up the process of developing the professional boxing scene in China, it would also prove that he is a capable professional and that his move from the amateur ranks wasn't too late. A loss for Shiming however could seriously damage the growth of Chinese boxing and could see Top Rank pull back their Chinese operations, at the same time it would legitimise Amnat as a top Flyweight.
The fighters involved might only be 112lb men but this bout is set to be big news in the world of sport.
(Image courtesy of Thairec.com)
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