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China's Zou wins decision in pro boxing debut

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The Associated Press | April 6, 2013 06:15 PM EST | AP

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Zou Shiming won a unanimous decision in his professional boxing debut Saturday, dominating all four rounds against Mexico's Eleazar Valenzuela at Macau.

Zou's high-profile flyweight debut was the centerpiece of a show at the Cotai Arena at the Venetian Macau casino. The two-time Olympic gold medalist didn't disappoint the crowd, which waved flags and cheered for the most successful amateur boxer in Chinese history.

"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 won China's first Olympic boxing medal in 2004 and its first gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Games, adding a second gold last year in London. The 31-year-old flyweight then signed with Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, who teamed him with veteran trainer Freddie Roach.

Zou's pro debut was broadcast to nearly every home in China. While other Chinese fighters have turned pro in recent years, none has Zou's amateur success or fame.

Zou had little trouble catching Valenzuela with big shots, but didn't manage to stop his 18-year-old opponent. Zou's defense was intermittently successful, part of his transition from the amateur game to a pro style.

"At times Shiming reverted back to his amateur style, but that's to be expected, and I'm not too concerned," Roach said. "It's a process to learn the professional style of fighting, but he is a very quick study."

Arum plans to put Zou in a world title fight within a year, and Top Rank is in discussions about another show at the Venetian Macau in August with Zou headlining in a six-round bout.

Earlier in the show, Juan Francisco Estrada beat longtime flyweight champion Brian Viloria by split decision to claim the popular former U.S. Olympian's WBA and WBO belts. Rocky Martinez also retained his WBO super featherweight title with a split decision over Diego Magdaleno.