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Two Chinese boxers squeeze into last eight, two world silver medalists out
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Chinese light heavyweight (81kg) dark horse boxer Zhang Xiaoping and welterweight favorite Hanati Silamu both slashed their respective rivals on Thursday and managed to squeeze into the last eight squad.

Zhang Xiaoping gave the Chinese audience a pleasant surprise by accomplishing the "mission impossible", defeating his stronger rival Russian Artur Beterbiev, world championships silver medalist, with a relatively big lead of 8-2.

However, the easy score doesn't mean an easy fight. Zhang suffered the Russian's major blows during the first round, without being able to throw his own punches. He lost 0-2 after the first round. Yet he cleverly changed tactics from the second round and started playing "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 more 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 biggest dark horse of the day. He successfully squeezed himself into the last eight squad, and embraces a large possibility of seizing a medal at this Olympics.

After the match, Zhang was overjoyed. He ran like mad around the inner arena, cheering with the wild audience.

Another Chinese welterweight Hanati Silamu also survived his second fight. Facing low-rated Cameroonian Joseph Mulema, the Chinese didn't win easily. Like a bulldozer, Mulema kept pushing forward to launch fierce attacks, while Silamu relied on his deft footwork to avoid the attacks and initiate blows. He finished the entry test to the last eight with 9-4.

Zhang and Silamu will fight Algerian and Bahamian opponents respectively at the quarterfinals. If they win, they'll be guaranteed to earn at least two bronze medals.

The Thai had mixed feelings today, as their brother boxers at the Olympics suffered one loss and enjoyed one victory in the same day. World championship welterweight silver medalist Non Boonjumnong suffered an unexpected defeat by low-profiled Egyptian Hosam Abdin with a narrow score of 10-11.

However, his brother Manus, light-welterweight Olympic champion danced with his victory to the last eight. The smiling Manus fought breezily throughout the four rounds against serious Japanese Masatsugu Kawachi, world championship bronze medalist, moving and jumping like a monkey. The elusive Manus beat the Japanese with an easy 8-1.

In the light welterweight competition, two times world champion Kazakh Serik Sapiyev, world championship silver medalist Russian Gennady Kovalev and Cuban power Roniel Iglesias Sotolongo all crushed their challengers with much ease. The Cuban gave the audience a treat to the eye with his much handsome way of fighting. His neat and fast punches, agile movement, and graceful gesture earned applauses from the audience.

Welterweight champion American Demetrius Andrade washed out Russian Andrey Balanov 14-3 without much difficulty. British teenager star Billy Joe Saunders was still no match to the much too good Cuban Carlos Banteaux Suarez, lagging 7 points.

Light heavyweight Tajik Dzhakhon Kurbanov made his pass smoothly. He crushed world champion Uzbek Abbos Atoev at his first bout, to much surprise of everyone. World championship bronze medalist Kazakh Yerkebulan Shynaliyev also joined the last eight crew without thunderbolts.

(Xinhua News Agency August 15, 2008)

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