Zou Shiming (left) fights his opponent at the National Boxing Championship on April 23. Photo: CFP
The 2011 World Boxing Championships, the major qualifying event for the London 2012 Olympic Games, rang down the curtain on October 10 in Azerbaijan's capital Baku, with China bringing home one gold, one bronze and three "Olympic tickets."
"Generally speaking, the performance of our boxers is up to the mark," Chang Jianping, president of the Chinese Boxing Association, the highest office which oversees boxing in China, told Global Times after the Worlds. "I'm especially satisfied with Zou Shiming's exceptional showing."
China's boxing kingpin Zou put on a series of dominating shows and claimed his third world title in Baku after being crowned at the 2005 and 2007 Worlds.
"It's Asia's only gold medal at this year's Worlds," Chang said, referring to Zou's latest success. "By winning the world title for the third straight time, Zou is spoken of highly by almost all the global experts."
The 30-year-old Chinese, who has remained unbeaten since 2007, is the world's most accomplished light flyweight in amateur boxing, a legendary ring master that has had one Olympic gold medal and three world titles under his belt.
Apart from Zou, China's second best, the 2008 Olympic silver medalist Zhang Zhilei who has been co-handled by American legendary trainer Lou Duva since 2009, fell short of expectations in the newly concluded boxing tournament, even failing to qualify for the quarterfinals.
It was the two fresh prospects — heavyweight Wang Xuanxuan and light heavyweight Meng Fanlong that secured the other two of the three Olympic boxing berths for China.
"Our main purpose of this outing is to win as many ‘Olympic tickets' as possible," said Chang.
"The Chinese team overall has been ranked among the world's elite. Some certain boxers should have done better."
On top of the world at this Worlds event is Ukraine, a dark horse that amazingly claimed four out of 10 gold medals; Cuba, the traditional boxing superpower, topped two weight categories; China, Russia, Brazil and the host nation Azerbaijan won one gold medal apiece.
As far as the "ticket" number goes, Ukraine is also the biggest winner, clinching six spots at the 2012 London Games; standing side by side, next in line are Cuba, India, Italy and Kazakhstan, all with five.
At the height of its power, prior to the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, China managed to grab one gold, four bronzes and seven "Olympic tickets" at the 2007 edition of the premier boxing event.
"There will be another Olympic qualifying tournament in the Asian region. So, we'll still have chances to qualify for more weight classes," Chang asserted.
There are a total of 232 Olympic spots for the entire 10 weight categories in men's boxing. As the main Olympic qualifying event, the 2011 Worlds allowed 92 boxers to qualify; the other 140 tickets will be produced by the respective continental Olympic qualifying tournaments.
With the emergence of Zou Shiming, amateur boxing in China has grown by leaps and bounds over the past few years.