China's professional boxing took a further step forward when Xiyan Zhang added another world title to her resume.
Chinese female boxer Xiyan Zhang won the WBA Super Flyweight female championship by defeating South Korea's defending champion Ha-Na Kim on October 9, 2007 in Chengdu, China, in the course of the 86th WBA Annual Convention. She now holds three world titles, WBA, WIBC and WIBA, under her belt.
In an action-packed electrifying performance, Xiyan Zhang beat, battered and outboxed the defending champion Tuesday night before a home crowd of over 1,000 at Sichuan Gymnasium. She floored the champion three times in a 10-round bout en route to a unanimous decision victory, which was scored 98-90, 97-91, and 98-89 by the three judges.
“I knew that I had won when the tenth round started,” the 27-year-old southpaw said. “My next goal is to defend the title and win more championships.”
The WBA Super Flyweight defending champion Ha-Na Kim had an outstanding professional record of 8-1, 3 KOs before this fight and successfully defended her belt three times.
Xiyan Zhang, the female challenger from China's Heilongjiang Province, started and ended the fight with a solid knockdown over her opponent, sending the reigning champ to the canvas both in the first round and the last round. In between, Xiyan Zhang was in control.
For Xiyan Zhang, it's speed that kills.
The Chinese southpaw started out strong with her fast hands and footwork, knocking the South Korean to the mat two times in round one and three, respectively. The crowds exploded when Xiyan Zhang pounded Ha-Na Kim with several bangs to her cheek in the second.
“Knock her out! Knock her out!” the Chinese fans chanted vigorously in one voice.
However, the three-time defending champion appeared to be nothing short of tenacious. She survived the first several rounds and took a turn in the fifth, hitting the challenger with a hard crisp right hand in her chest. The blow was so powerful that Xiyan Zhang was heavily sent to the canvas.
“This is the hardest moment for me,” Zhang said. “I could barely breathe after being hit by that punch. My coach told me that Kim is a hard-hitting brawler. He suggested that I should avoid confronting her face to face and get the most out of my footwork and speed.”
Zhang made it past the fifth round and prevailed over the next four rounds. In the tenth, she knocked the champion down for the third time.
“I knew that I had won when the tenth round started,” Zhang confided. “Although I was knocked down in the fifth, it didn't affect me that much in the second half.”
When Zhang's victory was announced, the crowd burst into cheers. After the WBA president Mr. Gilberto Mendoza personally awarded her the WBA golden belt, Zhang's jubilant French coach lifted her to his shoulder and tour around the ring for a loop.
The WBA title is the biggest title Xiyan Zhang has ever won since the WIBC/WIBA champion entered the ring, but she didn't show much excitement after the fight.
“Frankly, I am not as excited as I used to be when I won the WIBA belt last year in Chengdu,” Zhang confided. “The WIBA title is the first title I've won since turning pro. I had a hard time wining that fight. This is my third golden belt. Compare with the first one, I do feel sorta different.”
Xiyan Zhang is not the only Chinese female boxing champion competing on the world stage. China has produced another two female world boxing champions.
Maomao Zhang won the 57kg gold medal in the 1st Women's World Boxing Championship on December 2, 2001 in Scranton, Pennsylvania, becoming the first Chinese world female boxing champion. In the summer of 2002, the newly-crowned champion who couldn't find an opponent in her nation went to the U.S. to attend professional boxing matches. She's now a WIBF registered prizefighter.
Lijun Gao bagged the PABA Super Featherweight title by taking out Filipino Jonna Chowkowen in a fifth round TKO in Shanghai, China, on February 24th, 2006, becoming the first Chinese Asian female boxing champion. One month later, in her first outing in Jeonju City, South Korea, with only two professional bouts on her resume, Lijun Gao stopped the local boxer Ha-Na Kim in the tenth round and won the vacant WBA Female Featherweight title. She then becomes the first WBA female champion in Chinese history.
In comparison with the male, female pro boxing has more potential in terms of global impact as it testified in the three female world champions China has produced. China should capitalize on the female pro boxing and perhaps boxing boom in China starts right from here.
Zhenyu Li is the columnist for People's Daily online and a member of the International Boxing Research Organization (IBRO). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.