China’s Zou Shiming, two time Olympic gold medalist and three time amateur world champion, won a unanimous points victory against Mexican Eleazar Valenzuela in his debut professional fight in Macau.
There was a huge amount of build up to the fight, both in China and overseas. Zou was paid $300,000, a previously unheard of payday for a debut pro fighter. His young opponent received $15,000, thirty times his usual rate.
“I know I am a rookie, but I am confident I will improve,” Zou said through a translator. “I hope I delivered a good show, because that is what I wanted. Thank you to China for supporting me as an amateur and as an Olympian. No matter where I go or where I fight, I will always be Chinese.”
Zou is viewed by many in the sport as the key to expanding boxing in China, his Olympic success earned him a huge domestic following in a country that is still largely ambivalent to boxing. Zou’s debut fight was broadcast for free throughout China, making it one of the most watched bouts in boxing history.