Cammarelle gives Italy super heavyweight gold

Aug. 24, 2008, 6:42 a.m. (ET)

BEIJING (AP) Boxing ended with a big thud for China, thanks to an Italian policeman with no intentions of turning pro.

Roberto Cammarelle stopped Zhang Zhilei in the fourth round of the final bout of the Olympics on Sunday. Cammarelle was way ahead on points after battering his Chinese opponent, who had won two routs and a walkover to get to the gold medal bout.

Zhang was the only one of three Chinese finalists to lose, and he was clearly overmatched by the 28-year-old veteran and 2004 Olympic bronze medalist. Cammarelle battered Zhang's head so effectively in the last round that the referee had no choice but to stop the bout.

"I wouldn't say it was easy, but in the end the bout turned out the way I expected," said Cammarelle, the 2007 world champion. "He is a dangerous giant, but I badly wanted to win."

What he doesn't want badly is a pro career. Cammarelle said he will remain an amateur, fighting for his club in Italy, and defend his world title next year.

"I'll keep on going in the Olympic, or amateur level, and compete for my police club and try to defend my world championship in Milan, my home city," Cammarelle said. "Then perhaps I will retire because I will be at that age."

Cammarelle is the first Italian to win boxing medals in successive games. He figured to have a difficult chore against Zhang in front of the loud, partisan crowd. But he had his share of supporters, too, and when Cammarelle won, coach Francesco Damiani leapt around like a child.

"It was a fight with no story," Damiani said. "After the first round, it was clear who would win. I never feared my athlete could lose this final."

Nor was Cammarelle ever worried.

"I could even have won with five Chinese judges," he said, smiling broadly.

That also brought a smile to Zhang's face during a news conference. Moments earlier, Zhang playfully tapped Cammarelle in the shoulder several times.

"All I can say is my opponent was doing an excellent job," Zhang said. "I was a little nervous in my home country and there was a lot of pressure. I did not do as good a job as I should have done."

Cammarelle learned plenty at the 2004 Athens Games - mainly that he just wasn't good enough for gold.

"Compared to four years ago, I became a different boxer and I improved," he said. "My first two matches here were hard fights, and the third and fourth I won based on technical skills. I can adapt myself to my opponents, but I perform best when it is a technical fight."

Actually, in Beijing, he performed best under all conditions.

"I knew I'd always win," Cammarelle said. "It's just a matter of how I win."

Comments