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Boxing

Again, it becomes bite night

August 20, 2008
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BEIJING - Evander Holyfield apparently already had left Workers' Gymnasium by the time Dzhakhon Kurbanov decided to bite his opponent's shoulder in last night'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 last 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 already had 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 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 2-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 appear to like the penalty or the scoring. (AP).

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