<
>

Pair of Chinese fighters move into boxing semifinals

8/19/2008

BEIJING -- Light-flyweight Zou Shiming and
light-heavyweight Zhang Xiaoping won semifinal places on a
wild night Tuesday to give China a guarantee three
Olympic boxing medals.

Zou, who won bronze in Athens, and Zhang are both
guaranteed at least a bronze with their wins Tuesday.

The 10,000 fans in the Workers' Gymnasium cheered on their
men with deafening roars and were thrilled to see Zou and Zhang
outpoint Birzhan Zhakypov and Abdelhafid
Benchabla, respectively.

Wearing golden boots, Zou struggled at first but gradually
gained confidence, displaying nice footwork and great accuracy
to win a 9-4 decision.

"They are specially made for me. I like the color," he
said of his boots.

Before getting a chance to win a medal of the same color,
he will have to face Paddy Barnes, who ended Ireland's
eight-year wait for an Olympic medal when he outpointed
Poland's Lukasz Maszczyk 11-5.

"Just getting through to fight him is like a gold medal for
me," said Barnes, who lost to Zou in the quarterfinals of last
year's world championships in Chicago.

The raucous fans had another party later in the session
when Zhang was challenged by Benchabla at first but then
stepped up a few gears to end the fight 12-7 up on the
scoreboard.

Tajikistan's Dzhakhon Kurbanov was disqualified for biting
Kazakh Yerkebulan Shynaliyev in their light-heavyweight
quarter-final. Kurbanov had been regarded as one of the
favourites for the title.

Ireland had a good night with not only Barnes but also
light-heavyweight Kenny Egan advancing by outpointing Brazil's
Washington Silva to make the last four, where he will face
Briton Tony Jeffries.

Like China and Ireland, Britain will get at least two
medals after Jeffries outclassed Hungary's Imre Szello to
follow super-heavyweight David Price through to the
quarter-finals.

"We'd been working on the tactics all week and tonight they
were spot on," said Jeffries. "I dedicated the last two years
of my life to get a medal. This is the proudest moment of my
life."

The lightweights were also in action with favorite Alexey
Tishchenko advancing easily, relying on his superior hand speed
to outpoint Colombia's Darleys Perez 13-5.

Russia's Tishchenko, who moved up after winning
featherweight gold in Athens, next faces Hrachik Javakhyan of
Armenia. Javakhyan made sure of a medal when his scheduled
quarter-final opponent, South Korea's Baik Jong-sub, pulled out
injured.