Pair of Chinese fighters move into boxing semifinals

Updated: August 19, 2008, 3:45 PM ET

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.