China's light flyweight (48kg) boxer Zou Shiming and light heavyweight (81kg) Zhang Xiaoping routed their respective opponents on Tuesday night and sailed into the last four, securing two more medals for the Chinese boxing team.
Zou, bronze medalist at the Athens Olympic Games and China's biggest hope for the first Olympic boxing gold, advanced into the semifinals of the Beijing Olympics, after beating Birzhan Zhakypov from Kazakhstan 9-4.
Both boxers were cautious in the ring at the beginning of the bout, as the first round ended with Zou getting only one point and Zhakypov none. Zou initiated attacks in the next two rounds and took an 8-3 lead when the third round concluded. Zhakypov tried to keep up with Zou in the fourth round, but his efforts ended in vain as Zou blocked the coming punches.
With this victory, Zou has at least reproduced his last Olympic feat, and is now trying to go beyond it for a better gold.
In other light flyweight matches, Irish Paddy Barnes easily beat his Polish opponent Lukasz Maszczyk 11-5. Hope of Thailand Amnat Ruenroeng couldn't defend his world champion bronze medal, and was outscored by Mongolian Serdamba Purevdorj by 2-5. Without any surprise, Cuban Yampier Hernandez crushed Brazilian Paulo Carvalho with an impressive score of 21-6.
Another victory came to the unprepared Chinese light heavyweight Zhang Xiaoping. When fighting Algerian Abdelhafid Benchabla in the ring, Zhang appeared calm and relaxed. Unlike other Chinese boxers who tend to adopt a defense-then-attack tactic, Zhang struck first and gave his rival a surprise.
Though lagging a few points behind, Zhang didn't get impatient, but managed to catch up with the Algerian and then outscored him in the third round. In the last round, Zhang protected himself tightly against the storming attacks from the Algerian, and denied the latter a comeback. The Chinese finally beat the Algerian 12-7.
The victory was even a surprise for Zhang himself, who ranked 9th in last year's world championships. "I'm not that famous and so I just tried my best. I'm glad I won this bout," said the overjoyed Zhang.
In his category, Briton Tony Jeffries washed out Hungarian Imre Szello with a 10-2. Irish Kenny Egan outscored Brazilian Washington Silva by eight net points, giving no chance to the Brazilian to score even once. Kazakh Yerkebulan Shynaliyev, world championships bronze medalist, comfortably defeated Tajik Dzhakhon Kurbanov 12-6.
Unlike his winning peers, Chinese lightweight (60kg) boxer Hu Qing suffered elimination in a quarterfinal against Frenchman Daouda Sow. Hu was leading 6-5 when the third round ended, but after he was given a two-point penalty for holding, the Chinese couldn't chase the French and lost the game 6-9.
The other three lightweight matches witnessed Russian Alexey Tishchenko, Athens Olympic gold medalist, crush Colombian Darleys Perez 13-5, Cuban Yordenis Ugas unsurprisingly kick Romanian Georgian Popescu out of the game by 11-7, and Armenian Hrachik Javakhyan enjoy a walkover due to rival South Korean Baik Jongsub's sickness.
(Xinhua News Agency August 20, 2008)