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Asian Olympic giants eye world titles.

Byline: AFP

ROME: Asia s contingent of Olympic boxing champions will be confident of adding world titles to their glittering collections when the world championships get underway in Milan on Tuesday.

China s Zou Shiming (light flyweight), Somjit Jongjohor of Thailand (light flyweight) and Mongolia s Enkhbatyn Badar-Uugan (batamweight) will all start amongst the favourites.

Zou is actually aiming for a third straight world title while Somjit and Badar-Uugan won silver medals at the last world championships in Chicago in 2007.

Asians won five of the 11 Olympic gold medals in 2008 and another strong showing is likely.

Italian fighters will be looking to lead the challenge to Asia particularly in light of the decline of traditional powerhouse Cuba.

The Cubans did not compete in Chicago and then stunningly failed to pick up a single gold medal at the Beijing Olympics last year. The second most dominant country in amateur boxing, the United States, only managed a single medal -- a bronze -- in China while Russia, having dominated the European Championships, managed just two golds at the Olympics.

In fact, that competition had such a spread of medals that many countries will arrive in Milan with realistic hopes of coming away with a new world champion.

Leading the European charge will be the Italians, who won two gold medals in Chicago and followed that up with an Olympic title as well.

They also performed well in recent team matches, beating the USA and China, drawing with Cuba and only narrowly losing to Russia. Those results can be misleading, though, as Italy has a wide gap between their better fighters and the rest.

Muscat Press and Publishing House SAOC 2009

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Publication:Times of Oman (Muscat, Oman)
Date:Sep 1, 2009
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