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Chinese "Dark Horse" Rushes into Boxing Final
    2008-08-22 23:21:58     Xinhua
Chinese light heavyweight (81kg) Zhang Xiaoping exceeded people's expectation on Friday night by beating world championship bronze medalist Kazakh Yerkebulan Shynaliyev by small points and rushed into the final as a dark horse, securing at least a silver medal for China.

Both boxers were pretty cautious throughout the match, using many tentative and fake attacks to distract each other. Facing the stronger opponent, Zhang, ranking 9th at last year's world championships, didn't show fear or timidness, nor was he too aggressive. Amid the boisterous cheering from the fully-packed audience, Zhang patiently ploughed around, looking for the "enemy's" rips and quickly attacking them.

Zhang and Shynaliyev fought in similar style and they tied each other throughout the bout with 4-4. When the referee announced Zhang's victory by small points, Zhang jumped in ecstasy and ran like mad around the arena.

After the match, Zhang told Xinhua that he fully performed himself at this fight, both psychologically, strategically and physically. "I used the correct strategy," Zhang said, "which is to stick to the points with my opponent during the first two rounds and not to be lagged behind, then to attack the opponent's weakness while his power was waning at the latter two rounds."

With this victory, Zhang said he's more than confident to win a gold medal. He'll face Irish Kenny Egan at his last bout, who easily defeated Briton Tony Jeffries 10-3 before Zhang's fight.

Zhang's coach Chao Lu said Zhang was fully prepared before the match, and he kept calm and steady throughout the fight, which was key to victory.

Zhang showed himself as the dark horse of this tournament, defeating four "enemies" during his four bouts, including world championship silver medalist Russian Artur Beterbiev.
 
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