Chinese boxing star Zou Shiming has released a statement denying he has violated a contract with a sports agent, the latest development in an ongoing dispute between Zou, a two-time Olympic gold medal winner, and SECA, a sports marketing firm with offices in Beijing and Shanghai.
The dispute started last week after Zou's wife, Ran Yingying, alleged the sports firm had forced Zou to fight despite having a problem with his left eye. She also claimed SECA owed Zou huge sums of income, but didn't provide further details.
The allegations were made in private WeChat messages that were leaked to the media.
Her allegations prompted SECA to release a statement on Monday, saying it was nonsense that Zou had been forced to fight. "For every fight in which Zou participated, he had to take medical check before he started. Every party involved, including the boxer himself, needs to sign on to a confirmation letter," said SECA's statement.
SECA, which became Zou's agent in 2012, denied that it owed Zou money. The company claims Zou unilaterally ended the contract and self-promoted his fight with Japan's Sho Kimura in July.
However, Zou's latest statement says it was SECA that first violated the deal, which prompted Zou to abort the contract in early 2017.
Zou signed a deal with a Shanghai-based sports firm in May to promote his fight with Sho Kimura. But SECA insists that its contract, which bans Zou from signing deals with other agents, was still in place in May.
Zou was hospitalized in Shanghai last week following a sudden loss of vision in his left eye. Zou's statement says he is still receiving treatment in the hospital.
The 37-year-old Zou Shiming is China's most successful boxer, having claimed three consecutive Olympic medals as well as three World Amateur Boxing Championship gold medals.
Zou decided to switch from amateur to professional competition after defending his Olympic champion title at the London Game in 2012.
His career rose to a new high after he defeated Thailand's Prasitsak Phaprom and won the World Boxing Organization flyweight title in Las Vegas in November, 2016.
The title was taken over by Sho Kimura after Zou lost the July fight in Shanghai, which saw the Chinese superstar suffer a shocking knockout defeat.
Zou appealed twice to the World Boxing Organization, claiming he had been unfairly treated in the fight. Both appeals were rejected.