By Unus Alladin
Japanese “no hoper” Sho Kimura, bleeding heavily from a cut right eye for almost nine rounds, roared back determinedly to score a sensational 11th round knockout of China superstar Zou Shiming in a massive upset to lift the WBO flyweight title in Shanghai on Friday night.
Kimura, given no chance by bookies at 10-1 and only ranked seventh in the WBO, stopped the two-time Olympic champion with a flourish of punches late in the 11th round of the 12-round contest before Zou collapsed under the onslaught and waved no more to a stunned capacity crowd at the Shanghai Oriental Sports Centre.
The 28-year-old Kimura suffered a cut eye as early as the third round and needed medical attention in the sixth but he fought on doggedly, delivering his payload late in the 11th round as he had Zou backed up against the ropes.
The Japanese slugger then went for the kill, landing a good right hook before a furious left-right combination staggered Zou. The Chinese star then crumbled with exhaustion as Kimura landed a few more blows. Zou failed to get up although the referee didn’t bother to count.
The shock defeat was a bitter letdown for Zou, who was promoting the fight himself and chose his homeland for his first title defence as part of his aim to raise boxing's profile in China.
Going into this fight, he parted ways with Top Rank and didn't use trainer Freddie Roach for his camp. There were even rumors that he didn't take the training camp that seriously, with Kimura being labeled as such a huge underdog.
Shiming was defeated in 2015, by decision, when he tried to lift the IBF title from then champion Amnat Ruenroeng. He won the vacant WBO belt last November with a decision win over Prasitsak Phaprom on the Manny Pacquiao-Jessie Vargas undercard at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
Zou, 36, a two-time Olympic gold medallist who only turned pro in 2013 after a long and brilliant amateur career, drops to 9-2 as a pro.