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Zou Shiming returns with TKO win, Murata remains undefeated

Fighters Network
Photo by ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images

Photo by ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images

Zou Shiming made his return to professional boxing on Saturday night, stopping previously unbeaten Brazilian Natan Santana Coutinho at 2:17 of the eighth round at the Shanghai Oriental Sports Center in Shanghai, China.

Zou (7-1, 2 knockouts) shook off the rust of nearly a year out of the ring following his decision loss to IBF flyweight titleholder Amnat Ruenroeng, taking a few punches but delivering far more to the 21-year-old Coutinho (12-1, 10 KOs), who was fighting outside of his native country for the first time as a pro.

The two-time gold medalist from Zunyi, China, had led a boxing revolution in his home country, where pro boxing was once banned under Chairmon Mao. All of his previous pro fights had been in the Chinese territory of Macau, and he was fighting for the first time on the mainland since his debut.

“[Coutinho] came here to entertain but the best way to entertain was to win and I did that,” Zou was quoted by the South China Morning Post.

Top Rank, which promoted the show, had hopes of building a fanbase in the country the way they had with Manny Pacquiao in the Philippines, but Zou wasn’t the only Asian gold medalist that they had invested in.

Ryota Murata, the 2012 Olympic gold medalist in the middleweight division from Japan, stretched his record to 9-0 (6 KOs) with a second-round knockout of Argentine Gaston Alejandro Vega (24-11-1, 10 KOs) at the 2:23 mark.

Murata, 30, started out behind his jab, hoping to set up the knockout while boxing conservatively. All of that went out the window midway through the first when he dropped his 32-year-old opponent and then swung wildly with right hands that often missed their mark in an attempt to follow up his assault.

Vega, who has now been stopped eight times in his eleven defeats, proved to be no threat, and was dropped for a second and final time the following round.

Top Rank’s show in China was not their first in the world’s most populous nation, but was their first since marking the end of their run in the gambling haven of Macau after eight shows.

Top Rank CEO Bob Arum announced earlier in the week that he would be promoting Hong Kong-based prospect Rex Tso (18-0, 11 KOs) in Hong Kong, with the target being a title fight with WBA junior bantamweight titleholder Kohei Kono.

“We thank Macau for hosting boxing and bringing it on a tremendous basis to this part of the world,” Arum was quoted by Agence France-Presse.

“But we know there is not the same appetite for events there as in prior years.”