Bantamweight Xiyan Zhang (Zhang Xi Yan or Zhang Xiyian) was born on April 22, 1980 in
northeastern China's Hei Long Jiang Province.
Zhang first appeared on the international boxing scene as an amateur
at the 2002 Women's World Championships held from October 21 to 27, 2002
in Antalya, Turkey. An observer of the 64-kg final in which Zhang defeated
Marzia Davide of Italy wrote:
"I watched in amazement again when the bantamweight final took place. In the ring Zhang
Xiyian, a 22-year-old student from Beijing, was whipping in bolo punches - a complex and
demanding form of loose uppercut, supposedly originating from the machete action of men
in Cuban sugar plantations. Most modern trainers would have difficulty describing the
shot, let alone teaching it. I asked her if she had ever seen film of Henry Armstrong,
the Thirties legend who was the master of the bolo. 'No,' the translator told me, 'she
is watching Mike Tyson.' It is possible that Xiyian's ability has something to do with
pure blind determination. After she left the ring, tearful men surrounded her. I asked
the translator why everybody was so emotional. She asked Xiyian. This is what she
told me: 'Her father was a weightlifter. A great Chinese sportsman but he never won the
world title. He put all his hope in his only daughter and he asked her to win a world title
for him. She picked boxing.' I asked which one was her father. 'None of them. He died last
year, that man is her uncle, her father's brother.' I left the new world champion and her
uncle crying. I think the ambassador had flown in from Ankara the night before;
the fight was certainly shown in China."
At the 2003 Asian Women's Boxing Championship in Hisar, Zhang lost in the
bantamweight semifinal to Ha Son Bi of North Korea by a 24-22 margin. Ha,
the defending champion and `best boxer' of the Bangkok Asians, fought a superb
battle and kept herself at a distance, fending off many punches from Zhang while
connecting two more than Zhang could in the closest fight of any two boxers in
In the 54-kg bracket of the Women's World Boxing tournament held from April 27
to May 2 200? in Tonsberg, Norway, Zhang (CHN) defeated Nicola Adams of England
28-7 in her prelinimary, then stopped Camilla Karlsson of Sweden RSCO in the 2nd
round oif her semifinal before stopping Sarita Devi of India RSCO in the 2nd
round of the final.
Zhang made her pro debut on December 24, 2005 at EXPO Garden Hotel in Kunming,
with a four-round decision over another debvut boxer from China, Tian Meng.
In her second pro fight on April 15, 2006, in Chengdu, China, she
won a 10-round unanimous (96-94,97-93,100-91) decision over highly regarded
Alicia Ashley of New York
to win the vacant WIBA Bantamweight world title. Ashley fell to 12-7-1 (1 KOs)
with the loss.
Zhang (L) vs Bianchini in November 2006
On November 4, 2006 at the Salle des Etoiles in Monte Carlo, Monaco,
Stefania Bianchini (110½ lbs) of Italy
retained the WBC Flyweight title with a ten-round split draw against Zhang (111½
lbs). The fight was scored 96-94 for Zhang by Robin Dolpierre, 97-92 for
Bianchini by Fabian Guggenheim while Belgian judge Daniel Van de Wiele scored it
a 95-95 draw. Referee Richie Davies had his hands full to keep the fight going
as there was a lot of holding and clinching, particularly by Bianchini who had a
point deducted under the WBC cut-rule for an accidental head-butt in the seventh
round. According to WBAN's correspondent Ewan Whyte, Zhang was seeking
to land the big one throughout the fight while Bianchini clinched constantly and
tried to exploit her greater experience. The endless clinching apparently
exhausted the patience of neutrals in the crowd. The result was greeted with
derisive whistles when the scores were announced, driving the promoter to take
the microphone and appeal for the spectators to remain calm “out of respect for
the fighters”. Bianchini moved her record to 15-2-2 (2 KO's) with this result.
Although Zhang had fought well against two world class boxers in her last two
pro fights, she moved on to face a series of opponents more worth of a raw
beginner in the pro sport.
On February 16, 2007 at Salle de Fetes in Carouge, Switzerland, Zhang (114¾ lbs)
won a four-round unanimous (40-37,40-37,40-37) decision over debut fighter
Kristina Rozhkova (110¼ lbs) from Ukraine.
On February 25, 2007 at Palais des Sports in Elancourt, France, Zhang TKO'd
Iliana Boneva of Bulgaria in the third round of a scheduled six-rounder.
In the opening round, Zhang hurt Boneva with a perfect left hook to the body. In
an exhibition of
aggressiveness and sharp punching, Zhang dominated the first two rounds and
forced the referee to stop the contest in the third to save Boneva from further
punishment. Boneva fell to 0-10-1.
On April 17, 2007 at Circus in Donetsk, Ukraine, Zhang TKO'd pro debuter Irina
Drozdova of Feodosia, Ukraine in the second round of a scheduled eight-rounder.
Mazelanik (L) vs Zhang in July 2007
On July 25, 2007 at Palestra Nuova in Ascona, Switzerland, Zhang (113¼ lbs) won
a clear ten-round unanimous (97-93,97-93,99-91) decision over 20-year-old Pia
Mazelanik (114¾ lbs) of Dorsten, Germany for the WIBC Junior Bantamweight
title. Mazelanik fell to 4-2-1 (0 KO's) with this loss.
Zhang vs Ha-Na Kim (at right) in October 2007
On October 9, 2007 at Sichuan Statium in Chengdu, China, Zhang (115 lbs) won a
ten-round unanimous (98-90,98-89,97-91) decision over Ha-Na Kim (113½ lbs) of
Ilsan Gu, South Korea for the WBA Junior Bantamweight title.
Zhang started fast with impressive hand speed and had Kim on the canvas
in the first 30 seconds. With the partisan crowd cheering her on,
she tried for a first round stoppage, buckling Kim's
knees trice more, but she could not put the Korean away
and Kim regained her composure. Kim came back in the second
with roundhouse rights. In the fifth round, Kim turned the tide
with a right hand counter that put Zhang down, but that was
the high point for the champion as Zhang
never looked back once she had recovered from the knockdown,
coasting to the win with accurate counters,
foot work and lateral movement.
"I knew that I won when the tenth round started," said Zhang, adding, "My aim is to defend the gold belt
and win more championships."
the first Chinese boxer of either gender to win a major
world title while Kim fell to 8-2 (3
KO's) with the loss.
On December 14, 2007 at Palestra Nuova in Ascona, Switzerland, what should have
been a routine appearance by Zhang (116¾ lbs) against Viktorya Olenik (116½ lbs)
of Ukraine in a six-rounder turned sour when Zhang injured and lost by a
56-58,56-59,55-59 unanimous decision.
On February 26, 2009 at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan, Manami
Arima (114 lbs) of Tokyo, Japan won a
ten-round split (97-95,98-92,95-96) decision over Zhang (113¾ lbs) for
the WBA Junior bantamweight title. According to
Joe Koizumi of FightNews.com: "Tsunami ... kept on stalking
defending champ Zhang Xi Yan, a Chinese southpaw, and overcame her early deficit
on points to earn a split decision ... It was such a hairline verdict as either
could have been the winner ... It was the very first WBA female world title bout
ever held in Japan, a good market for smaller divisions. Regardless of the
debatable decision, it was a very good contest where the skillful footworker
(Zhang) and the non-stop puncher (Tenkai) displayed all they had. It might
become a beginning of solving our discrimination against the women’s boxing.
From the start Zhang made good use of her speed in punching and moving
side-to-side, displaying sharp combinations to the cautious challenger. The
braided-haired Chinese, 28, was in command in the first three rounds, as the
short-haired Japanese, four years her junior, didn’t start her engine yet. The
fourth saw Tenkai, ex-IFBA bantam ruler, recklessly began boring in and
connected with solid left hooks to the lefty champ’s cheek. Making full use of
her feet, Zhang dominated the fifth with versatile combinations upstairs and
downstairs, while Tenkai missed more powerful but less accurate combos. The cute
Japanese girl accelerated her attack from the sixth onward and kept stalking the
elusive champ to occasionally score with her trademark left hooks. Zhang rode a
bicycle to avert mixing up with the aggressive and pugnacious challenger, who
attempted to work the body and stop the champ’s still shifty footwork.
Zhang kept retreating to keep her distance, but Tenkai continually went forward
to throw solid combinations in round seven and eight. The champ, still more
technically excellent, often threw her busy punches without hitting with her
knuckle part, while the challenger showed her abundant stamina and kept throwing
solid shots to the face and belly. Aware of the contest being very close, Tenkai
desperately tried to come close to the cagey champ who kept moving and attempted
to counter the willing mixer. The Japanese seemed to dominate the last two
sessions, which might or might not offset her early deficits on the scores. The
jubilant winner and the first WBA female champ Tenkai cried for joy, and said,
“I’m very happy to show my power. I wish to express my whole-hearted thanks to
my supporters." Zhang fell to 7-2-1 (2 KO's) while Arima improved to
13-3 (4 KO's).
Other Xiyan Zhang links
To check out fight reports, complete up-to-date boxing records, with huge digital photos you can go to
the WBAN Records Member Site
Page last updated:
Friday, November 06, 2015