24 August 2008 – by Brian Murphy
Kenny Egan was denied an Olympic gold medal after coming out on the wrong end of a contentious 11-7 scoreline in his bout with China’s Xiaoping Zhang on Sunday.
Bidding for Ireland’s first boxing gold since Michael Carruth in 1992, Egan looked confident as he stepped into the ring on the final day of the Beijing Games, but he was always behind the Chinese fighter.
Zhang moved into an early lead, scoring twice in the first round, but poor judging was evident once again as Egan missed out on a couple of seemingly obvious points.
Egan stepped up his game in the second to pick up three points, but Zhang also scored several times and his two-point advantage was still intact by the halfway point.
The pair could not be separated in the third either, with both fighters picking up two points, although Egan should have been awarded another point after landing a heavy body shot.
Egan was up against it in the final round but the Neilstown fighter came out in determined mood, only for the judges to, once again, miss a couple of blatant scoring shots.
Zhang, however, was consistently awarded points for less obvious hits and he stretched clear to end the round 11-7 in front.
“I tried 100 percent. He got the lead, a silly lead at the start of it. I was still asleep,” Egan told RTE after the bout. “I’m disgusted with myself for that. That’s my only regret in the whole competition, the first round, but I gave it everything I had in the last three.
“I just threw everything I had. He caught me with a couple of good shots, I caught him. Body shots as well that probably didn’t score.
“But I’m not going to start making excuses. I’ve had a great campaign. I want to thank all the supporters here and at home. That’s it, that’s the end of the fairytale for now.
“I’m happy. I’m very, very happy. It would have been nice to take the gold. It’s always the same, when you win something you want more.
“He boxed well himself, he had a hard draw himself. He done well and beat the Russian and Kazakh. You can’t take it away from him. He done it there tonight.”
Egan’s coach Billy Walsh was dismayed by the scoring in the final.
“It is a bit of a joke,” he exclaimed. “A blind man could see that Kenny scored four or five clean shots that he didn’t get. A couple of times Zhang didn’t have clean shots but he got them.
“At the end of the day he is going home with a silver medal. We wanted gold, but, unfortunately, it wasn’t to be and he certainly has done his country proud.”