Chinese light heavyweight boxer Zhang Xiaoping became a dark horse on Thursday after defeating Russian favorite Artur Beterbiev, silver medalist of 2007 world championships, at the Beijign Olympics.
Zhang had a difficult first round when fighting the fearful Russian. He was unable to launch effective attacks and suffered two blows by the Russian. However, from the second round, Zhang changed his tactics by starting to fight "guerrilla boxing". In the next three rounds, he kept moving fast, distanced himself from his rival, gave sudden attacks and quickly eluded.
The strategy worked. In the three rounds, the Russian was unable to score one point against the elusive Chinese, yet suffered sudden punches from him. Zhang finally scored 8-2 against the world silver medalist, presenting himself as the dark horse of the day. He squeezed into the last eight, and embraces a large possibility of seizing a medal at the Olympics.
After the match, Zhang was over-joyed. He ran like mad around the inner arena, cheering with the wild audience.
When asked how he managed to complete the mission impossible, he told Xinhua:"Firstly I have the psychological advantage because my opponent is stronger than me, so I have no pressure."
"Secondly my strategy is quite good and I stuck to it," he said. "I took advantage of my height and kept distance from my opponent."
Yet he kept warning himself to be serious about every following match and rival.
Zhang will next face Algerian Abdelhafid Benchabla at the quarterfinal. If he wins, he'll be into the top four squad and guaranteed an Olympic medal.
(Xinhua News Agency August 14, 2008)