Two Russians lose fights, but China's Zou wins big
BEIJING (AP) David Price's hanging jaw exposed his mouthpiece as he looked to his corner, then back at the referee waving his arms in front of his flustered Russian opponent.
The British super heavyweight couldn't quite fathom he had just stopped Islam Timurziev, the biggest Russian on the baddest team in Olympic boxing.
"I still can't believe the way that it happened," Price said after twice knocking down the top-ranked fighter in their weight class with smashing blows, forcing the referee to stop the bout in the second round.
Price can believe it now - and the rest of the field can believe the Russians can be beaten after two big upsets on a busy Wednesday at Workers' Gymnasium.
Light flyweight David Ayrapetyan also lost to Ukraine's Georgiy Chygayev, leaving Russia with just eight of its 11 fighters alive.
That's less than rebuilding Cuba, which sends nine boxers into the next round despite its first loss, by super heavyweight Robert Alfonso. Osmai Acosta shut out his Nigerian opponent to open his chase for Cuba's fifth consecutive Olympic heavyweight title.
But Price delighted the few vocal Brits in attendance with a heavy-handed shocker. After a dull first round, he caught Timurziev twice with flush blows to the face, and referee Wang Jiabo stopped the bout when Timurziev looked woozy.
"He committed with the right hand, and I could feel bone on bone on his chin," Price said. "One more big punch, and it was over."
After the 2.3 meter (6-foot-8) Price leaped into the air like a teenage gymnast, Timurziev showed the same shaky grasp of sportsmanship as his losing teammates, slapping away Wang's hand at the traditional post-fight shake.
While the evening session was speckled with upsets, the afternoon belonged to light flyweight Zou Shiming, who began his run at China's first boxing gold medal in style with an 11-2 victory over Eduard Bermudez of Venezuela.
"It was just normal, and relatively easy," said Zou, an Athens bronze medalist and two-time world champion. "I was a little nervous before the fight, but when I got into the ring, I heard all the fans cheering for me, and then I forgot about the pressure. I really love this feeling. I felt like a man in the ring."
The Chinese team will have a suprising seven boxers in the next round after wins by Zou and super heavyweight Zhang Zhilei, who battered an inept Moroccan opponent 15-0 to the delight of the home crowd.
Chinese heavyweight Nijiati Yushan didn't fare as well, getting battered in a 23-4 loss to Ukraine's Oleskandr Usyk. A day earlier, Ukraine filed an unsuccessful protest with the International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA) over the scoring in its lightweight's loss to China's Hu Qing.
The struggling American team joined China, Britain and Ukraine with encouraging efforts. Heavyweight Deontay Wilder posted a dynamic 10-4 victory over Abdelaziz Touilbini of Algeria, and light flyweight Luis Yanez beat Spain's Jose Kelvin de la Nieve 12-9.
One day after flyweight medal favorite Rau'shee Warren's upset loss staggered the U.S. team, Wilder righted it again. Though Wilder took Warren's loss harder than anybody, he put on a fearsome display of the punching power that's turned him into an Olympian just 2½ years after taking up the sport.
"The whole strategy was to come out and basically scam this guy," Wilder said. "To figure out how he moves, what his speed was like, that sort of thing. In the third, we use the term, 'Bring the dog out.' ... They released the leash out on me."
After 2½ slow rounds, Wilder staggered Touilbini back into the ropes with a vicious left hand that tied the score shortly before the end of the third. Wilder dominated the fourth round, outscoring Touilbini 6-0 and using his left hook like a dull scalpel.
With American basketball stars Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul cheering in the evening session, Yanez did just fine with coach Dan Campbell in his corner. The two publicly berated each other during Yanez's three-week banishment from the team in July for skipping training.
Another upset befell the Philippines' Harry Tanamor, the runner-up to Zou at last year's world championships. The only Filipino boxer in the Olympics improbably lost to Ghana's Manyo Plange, a 20-year-old with no previous international success.
Italian medal favorites Clemente Russo and Roberto Cammarelle easily advanced in the two heaviest classes.