HONG KONG - China's two-time Olympic boxing champion Zou Shiming says it is his dream to make it big in the United States, ahead of just his second bout as a professional fighter.
The 32-year-old Zou, who is also a three-time amateur world champion, is attempting to become the first Chinese to make a name for himself on the global stage in a sport that was once banned in his country.
His US promoters Top Rank are hoping the flyweight's fame in China will open the door to a lucrative and untapped market. But Zou, Olympic gold medallist in 2008 and 2012, is looking in the opposite direction.
"When I first started practising boxing, I saw from television that a lot of fights were held in the US, so it's my dream to fight there," he told AFP ahead of his fight on July 27 in Macau against Mexico's Jesus Ortega (3-1, 2 KOs).
"In recent years, China is paying more attention to boxing. I will start by fighting in Macau or Asia first, and then hope finally I will have the chance to fight in the US."
The softly spoken Zou, who is from Guizhou province, in southwestern China, says that he wants to be challenging for a world title "within one or two years". But he admits that it is a steep learning curve.
He defeated the unknown Eleazar Valenzuela on points on his pro debut, in Macau in April, failing to deliver the knock-out that the 15,000-capacity CotaiArena was baying for.
"I think in the first fight I was very inexperienced," he said at a promotional event in Hong Kong, speaking through a translator.