Upsets arre a weird thing to talk about. Sometimes people call them, sometimes they don't. For us a key indicator as to whether a bout is an upset or not is the betting odds before a fight takes place. With that in mind, we bring you one of the biggest betting upsets since we starting this site, in our latest "What a Shock" article. And it's one that genuinely did result in our jaws dropping at the time. It ended one manes career and boosted another fighter, who went on to have a true FOTY contender only a few fights later.
July 28th 2017
Shanghai Oriental Sports Center, Shanghai, China
Zou Shiming (9-1, 2) vs Sho Kimura (14-1-2, 7)
In the summer of 2017 we saw Zou Shiming, the then WBO Flyweight champion, essentially taking control of his own career and frustrating Bob Arum and Top Rank. This resulted in Shiming setting up a title defense of his own in Shanghai against little known Japanese challenger Sho Kimura. Shiming took responsibility for the show, with his wife Ran Ying Yin, and he was looking to make his first defense of the WBO Flyweight title.
Shiming had won the WBO title the previous November but had had to wait more than 8 months to defend it. When he did return to the ring he selected the then unknown Sho Kimura as his opponent.
Prior to turning professional Shiming was an amateur standout and was tipped for success as a professional. He never really adapted to the pros in the way Top Rank had hoped, but he was still a capable boxer, with good speed, movement and boxing IQ. He had struggled but was expected to make an easy defense here.
In the ring Shiming was a quick, sharp fighter, who lacked power but used his tools and amateur experience well. He had been a professional for a few years but was still a fighter with a very amateur style. It was effective, but not very fan friendly or interesting.
As for Kimura he really was unknown. Of course now we all know who Kimura is, but back in 2017 his only win of note had been a narrow decision win over Masahiro Sakamoto for the WBO Asia Pacific title. He had no other wins of any note other than that one. In fact going deeper on his record he had lost inside a round on his debut. Not only had he done little in his boxing career, but he was also working as a delivery man outside of the ring, and was an unknown, even in Japan.
Stylistically Kimura was an aggressive pressure fighter, but a rather basic one, relying more on his strength and stamina than technical ability. He had proven he could go 12 rounds, when he beat Sakamoto, but didn't look like a special boxer during that fight.
It's worth noting that not only did Kimura have only a single win of note, Shiming was promoting the event but also no Japanese fighter had ever won a world title on Chinese soil before. It seemed an easy first defense for the champion and the bookies though as much, making Shiming a favourite, with odds between 1/12 and 1/40 whilst Kimura was a 9/1 under-dog.
From the off this was a pretty fun fight. Kimura immediately brought the pressure and Shiming was forced to let his hands go to try and create space. Although the two styles was massively different it made for a great dynamic between boxer and pressure fighter.
As the rounds went on Shiming was starting to out work Kimura, but never managed to demoralise the challenger, who was getting out landed, but landing the better shots, and never looked like he was tiring. This allowed Shiming to establish an early lead but he had been forced to work hard every round.
As we entered the later rounds the pressure from Kimura kept coming, and the wheels were beginning to come undone on Shiming. He was was slowing drastically, his hands were coming down and Kimura was getting the last word in on the exchanges. Kimura was cut, but determined, whilst Shiming was fighting on fumes, and looking under real pressure.
The pressure just didn't stop and the early lead of Shiming's was seemingly worn away as we entered round 10, however with the bout being in China however it was always going to be hard to trust the scoring. In round 11 Kimura took the the bout of the judges hands as he continued to pressure and eventually forced an exhausted Shiming to the canvas. Shiming beat the count but was done and the referee waved off the bout.
The loss essentially ended Shiming's career, with the Chinese fighter suffering eye issues that forced him to get emergency medical attention and he came close to losing sight in one eye. As for Kimura the bout launched his career massively, and he would go on to defend the belt twice before losing in the 2018 FOTY contender against Kosei Tanaka.
Although it's easy to down play what a shock this was, we need to remember Kimura was 9/1 to win! This was a serious upset and a massive shock, even if now, knowing what we do about Kimura, we would all back the Japanese fighter to beat Shiming.
Thinking Out East
With this site being pretty successful so far we've decided to open up about our own views and start what could be considered effectively an editorial style opinion column dubbed "Thinking Out East" (T.O.E).