Last month, Taishan Dong’s long journey from Beijing finally reached a conclusion. Not on a tarmac or at a gate, but in the center of a boxing ring at Longshoreman’s Hall in San Francisco. Dong, who towers over pretty much anyone he stands next to, measures 6 feet 11 inches, weighs 285 pounds, and at 26 years old has officially stepped onto the U.S. heavyweight boxing scene.
Named after China’s Mount Taishan, for obvious reasons, Dong is referred to as the Great Wall by ring announcers, the Yao Ming of American boxing by his promoters, and probably just JianJun by those that know him best. That is his real name after all.
Today, the world of boxing rarely breaks mainstream media unless the name Floyd Mayweather Jr. is mentioned in the same sentence. Taishan Dong’s emergence in the sport’s heavyweight division could change all that. Already signed to Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions, Dong looks every bit the real deal to be a legitimate contender. The last five heavyweight champions are Vitali Klitschko, David Haye, Alexander Povetkin, Wladamir Klitschko, Bermane Stiverne, and most recently Ruslan Chagev. All of these fighters have at least one thing in common-besides being champions-they’re all at least 33 years old.
At 26 years old, and a fresh face in the sport, the situation is somewhat ideal for Dong to begin his ascendancy to the heavyweight summit. In his debut fight, which you can and really should check out above, Taishan took out a 6-foot-3-inch Alex Rozman in under two rounds on Fisherman’s Wharf. The question now is where will his ability take him next. Maybe the journey is only just beginning.