By Robert Coster
Tomorrow night, WBC #10 Super-Flyweight contender, Xiong Zhaozhong of China will be making history. Xiong will be the first Chinese boxer to challenge for a world title, a daunting task since he will be facing the formidable reigning WBC champion Daisuke Naito who is bigger, taller and much more experienced. The bout is not taking place in Shanghai as originally planned but in Tokyo, so the 26-year-old challenger will also not be able to count on the support of the crowd. But a very determined Xiong is planning to give it his all, hoping to upset the overwhelmingly favored champion. Fightnews was able to reach Xiong on the eve of the biggest day of his life and short (3 years) boxing career.
Xiong, how do you feel 24 hours before fighting the fight of your life?
I am ready, I have trained hard. I am hopeful. I know I am the underdog but it actually makes me stronger.
Really? Aren’t you feeling incredible pressure, knowing the historical importance of the fight?
Of course, there is pressure. I am fighting for China and my people, the Miao people. We are a minority in China. Tomorrow I will represent China and my people.
So little is known about you. Can you present yourself?
I have 14 fights, 12 victories, 1 loss, 1 draw. I feel very lucky to be fighting for a title after only 3 years as a pro.
You are lighter, shorter, less experienced than the champion who is making his 5th title defense. What are do you feel is working in your favor?
My assets are my speed, my fitness, my endurance, being able to endure hardship.
Endure hardship…how is that?
I was raised on a little farm in Yunan. Everything was done by hand. Life was so hard and we were so poor but it taught me to be tough, to survive.
Have you really imagined having that title belt wrapped around your waist?
A: Of course. So many times. I always wanted to box ever since I was a child. I moved to Shanghai and joined an amateur program. I realized I had ability. I was beating bigger foes. Then I joined the Zovi Boxing Team in Kumming in 2006. Since then, I have had that purpose: to be a world champion. I realize that if I win tomorrow, it will pave the way for other Chinese boxers.