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Defending champion washed out of top four
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Athens Olympic champion Kazakh middleweight (75kg) strong-hand Bakhtiyar Artayev suffered a surprise defeat by unknown Indian James Degale with an astonishing score of 8-3 at the Beijing Olympic boxing quarterfinals Wednesday night.

Being a dark horse at the Athens Olympics, Artayev failed to defend his title this time although he threw heavy punches all the time. Degale, not as powerful as Artayev, cleverly shielded himself tightly against the Kazakh's violent attacks, and managed to throw more accurate punches to score.

After the fight, the defending champion couldn't accept his failure, with disbelief and disappointment written on his face.

However, the overjoyed Degale didn't seem to be surprised. "When you get to this level it's the little things on the day (that count)," he said.

Talking about his next fight with Irish Darren John Sutherland at the semifinal, the confident Degale said: "(With) the skills I've got, I should beat him everyday. This time, I'm going to use my brain and he shouldn't beat me."

Among the roaring cheer from Irish fans, Irish middleweight Sutherland gave his enemy Venezuelan Alfonso Blanco Parra a convincing conquer of 11-1, seizing at least a bronze medal for Ireland.

Cuban Emilio Correa Bayeaux narrowly beat Uzbek Elshod Rasulov 9-7, and Indian Vijender Kumar did a fine job beating Ecuadorian Carlos Gongora 9-4.

In the flyweight (51kg) division, the Cubans continued to show off their amazing skills and power on the ring, with their flyweight Andris Laffita Hernandez comfortably beat rival Puerto Rican McWilliams Arroyo Acevedo with an amazing 11-2.

"We have a winning atmosphere because we're all winning," said Hernandez. "We had an excellent preparation because our coach is the best in Cuba."

He'll next face Russian strong-hand Georgy Balakshin, who vanquished his Indian opponent Jitender Kumar 15-11 later in the day.

Italian world championship bronze medalist Vincenzo Picardi underwent a difficult time fighting his counterpart Tunisian Walid Cherif but finally did it with a close score of 7-5, while the Thai Somjit Jongjohor, silver medalist of the world championships, enjoyed an easy win of 8-1 over Tajik Anvar Yunusov.

(Xinhua News Agency August 21, 2008)

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