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China boxing star Zou fights to save eyesight and career

Zou Shiming, shown training in July, sought immediate hospital treatment last month after suddenly losing much of the sight in his left eye © AFP/File / STR

SHANGHAI, China, Jan 12 – China’s two-time Olympic boxing champion Zou Shiming on Friday came out fighting from severe eye problems that look likely to end his career, declaring defiantly: “I’m still me.”

The 36-year-old, who lost the first defence of his WBO flyweight world title in July, sought immediate hospital treatment last month after suddenly losing much of the sight in his left eye.

Zou and his team said he has now left hospital in Shanghai and there has been some improvement in his vision, but it is still too early to say if he will ever return to the boxing ring and he will need more treatment.

The boxer was admitted to hospital suffering what the state Xinhua news agency said were problems with both eyes, including orbital fractures, with the main concern his left eye.

Zou’s team said on Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter: “Thanks for people caring about brother Ming and thanks to the hospital staff for taking care of him.

“He is out of hospital to rest and is waiting for the next step in his treatment plan.”

Forwarding the message on Weibo, Zou wrote: “I’m still me.”

Zou’s team told AFP that it was too early to say what further treatment he will have but said that he has not had surgery.

“He just got out of hospital and is staying at home to recover. The (left) eye has recovered a bit but still could not be called healthy,” a member of his team said.

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It has been a turbulent six months for Zou.

He suffered a surprise knock-out defeat to Japan’s unfancied Sho Kimura in July in Shanghai in the first defence of his World Boxing Organization (WBO) belt.

Zou later said that he would “fight until my last breath” to recover the title.

Zou won the vacant flyweight belt in November 2016 in Las Vegas, but since turning professional in 2013 he has largely failed to replicate the dominant form of a hugely successful amateur career that included two Olympic golds and three amateur world titles.

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