Bite fight caps busy Olympic boxing night
BEIJING (AP) Evander Holyfield apparently already had left Workers' Gymnasium by the time Dzhakhon Kurbanov decided to bite his opponent's shoulder in the evening's final bout.
Holyfield didn't need any such reminders of his career lowlights, which include Mike Tyson infamously taking a chunk of his ear in 1997. Instead, the 1984 Olympic silver medalist witnessed plenty of amateur boxing's best behavior Tuesday night, including two fighters apiece from China, Ireland and Cuba who will be biting down on medals this weekend.
Kurbanov was disqualified for biting Kazakhstan's Yerkebulan Shynaliyev late in the third round of their light heavyweight bout, putting a bizarre coda on the third night of quarterfinal fights.
The incident, which occurred when many fans had already left after cheering two of their three hometown fighters to victory, put a strange end on a card that highlighted the Cuban team's enduring brilliance and the rise of light flyweight Zou Shiming's Chinese team, which will win at least four medals in Beijing after managing just one previously.
But the final bout was stopped with 17 seconds left in the third round when Kurbanov apparently bit Shynaliyev during a clinch. Shynaliyev, who angrily showed the blood on his shoulder to the referee, led 12-6 at the time, and Kurbanov had been warned multiple times for shoving and holding his opponent.
Kurbanov is a 22-year-old fighter who got off to an auspicious start in Beijing last week, beating world champion Abbos Atoev in his first bout. He won the 2005 Asian championships as a middleweight and was competing in his first Olympics.
Earlier, Zou clinched his second Olympic medal with a 9-4 victory over Kazakhstan's Birzhan Zhakypov. Light heavyweight Zhang Xiaoping followed him into the semifinals with a 12-7 win over Algeria's Abdelhafid Benchabla, but lightweight Hu Qing lost a contentious 9-6 fight to France's Daouda Sow.
Hu might be the most awkward, hold-happy boxer at the Olympics, but he nearly won his topsy-turvy fight with Sow, who blew a fourth-round lead before Hu got a two-point penalty for holding with 58 seconds left, propelling Sow back ahead and sending him to victory.
"He didn't have just one Chinese to beat tonight. He had 10,000," French coach Dominique Nato said of Sow, a 25-year-old with no significant international success.
Hu didn't like the penalty or the scoring, echoing the tone of complaints voiced by several fighters who claim the judges are favoring the Chinese.
Zou wore new, sparkly gold boots and blew kisses to the crowd before his fight even began, but the rest of his time in the ring wasn't all that pretty. Zou, whose quickness was unstoppable when he won the world championship last fall in Chicago, hasn't really found an ideal rhythm in Beijing, instead pushing through his bouts on athleticism alone.
"Zou has a lot of pressure, because all the boxers know that he is the world champion," Chinese coach Zhang Chuanliang said. "They've studied him."
After 10 days of whining from teams around the world about a Chinese bias, Zhang had his own low opinion of the officiating.
"The scoring system is very different from the past," he said. "It's very difficult for the boxers, especially Asian boxers, because their skills are based on technique."
Russian lightweight Alexey Tishchenko stayed in contention for his second gold medal with an easy win over Colombia's Darleys Perez. Tishchenko, one of three Russians left after their powerful team's collapse, won the featherweight gold in Athens before moving up in class two years ago.
"If he can get another one at this Olympics, it would mean a lot to the whole of Russia," coach Leonid Kisselev said.
Britain also clinched its second medal with light heavyweight Tony Jeffries' dominant 10-2 win over Hungary's Imre Szello. Though Jeffries is assured of taking home a prize from Beijing, he's already looking forward to adding another in four years.
"Hopefully I can keep the fun rolling to the 2012 Olympics in London," he said. "A lot of boxers want to go pro and win titles, but for me, the last three years have been all about winning a medal."
Jeffries' next match should be a corker: He'll face Ireland's Kenny Egan, who reached the semifinals along with light flyweight Paddy Barnes. Ireland, which hasn't won a medal yet in Beijing, will go home with at least two in boxing, with middleweight Darren Sutherland fighting Wednesday.
Mongolia's Serdamba Purevdorj advanced with a win over Thailand's Amnat Ruenroeng, who boxed while in prison.
"Everyone in prison will be sad as they watched me on the TV," Ruenroeng said.
The card featured only 11 fights after lightweight Baik Jong-sub of South Korea pulled out of his bout with Armenia's Hrachik Javakhyan with an injury.