They call Chinese heavyweight Taishan Dong “The Great Wall”, and it’s a nickname well deserved. At 6’11” and over 280 pounds of solid muscle, the 26 year old former kickboxer gives a whole new meaning to the term “super heavyweight”. It’s rare that a boxer with virtually no amateur experience fights on national television in their professional debut; but then again you don’t exactly see NBA center-sized Chinese heavyweights all too often either.
Taishan’s July 18th pro debut was a successful one, scoring a second round TKO over Alex Rozman (2-7 1KO) on a FOX Sports 1 card. Now manager George Gallegos and promoter Golden Boy Promotions are on the hunt for the next opponent. In the meantime, their fighter is soaking up all things boxing like a giant sponge. “He’s thinking about boxing 24 hours a day”, said Gallegos, “Whether it’s punching, footwork, or bag work, he’s going to go home and practice and you’ll see (the improvement) the next day”. The successful lawyer and longtime boxing fan met Taishan completely by random. “He walked into my office to ask a few legal questions”, said Gallegos, “when we were talking I asked him what he did and he said he was a fighter and he wanted to fight here but didn’t know how”. After that original meeting, Gallegos made some calls, got Taishan working in the gym and things took off from there.
Born Dong Jian Jun, Lanzhou China native once climbed Mount Taishan, one of the five sacred Taoist mountains of China. Upon reaching the summit he became so inspired by view that he felt compelled to take the mountain’s name for himself. Now Taishan calls Los Angeles home, where he trains with former welterweight champion James “Buddy” McGirt. Buddy, who’s been training Dong for about a month, praises the fighter’s focus. “He’s a good listener”, says Buddy, “what we work on here, he practices at home”. When asked about Taishan’s greatest attributes (other than the obvious) McGirt replied, “He has unbelievable speed for a guy his size, I just say (to him) relax and use that speed because the power is there. You can’t teach that, either you have it or you don’t, and he has it.” At this point Buddy is trying to lock down the basics and build up a routine with Taishan, but plans to get him fighting often over the coming months.
After some shadow boxing, mitt work and bag work, the fighter took a few minutes to chat with us. When asked about the recent success of Chinese fighters like Zou Shiming and Zhang Zhilei he replied, “I hope a lot more boxers will start coming out of China and making a name for themselves over here”. In terms of fighting style, Taishan said he was a fan of Tyson and Pacquiao. When asked if he’d like be an exciting knockout type of fighter, Taishan said, “it depends on their (my opponent’s) style and how it matches with me. If I can get the knockout, of course I’d like to, but sometimes you just have to get through to the end (of the fight)”. Dong also said he had no preference or goal in terms of where he fights, but is more concerned with his performance in the ring.
Get used to that name, because you’re going to be hearing it. He’s very raw and he has a lot to learn, but there is just too much potential in “The Great Wall” to be ignored. Nobody is calling him the next Klitschko just yet, but it will definitely be fun to watch this fighter’s journey as he learns the sweet science. One thing is for sure – whenever, wherever, whoever Taishan Dong fights, boxing fans will be watching. After all, he’s just too damn hard to miss.
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