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Last Updated: Friday, 27 August, 2004, 18:00 GMT 19:00 UK
Khan keeps gold dream alive
Amir Khan connects with a blow during his semi-final win
Britain's Amir Khan could become the youngest Olympic boxing champion in 52 years after assuring himself of at least a lightweight silver medal.

The 17-year-old continued his startling progress in Athens by beating Serik Yeleuov of Kazakhstan 40-26 on points in a stunning semi-final victory.

Khan made a tentative start, losing the opening round 7-5.

But he found his range in the second and reeled off seven straight points in the third to take command.

Khan was caught several times early on and the Kazakh stretched his lead to 14-9 in the second before the Briton started to improve and finished the round 16-14 down.

I think I can do the same to my next opponent
Amir Khan

Boxing final: Khan v Kindelan
Time: 1241 BST Sunday
Live: BBC 1, Five Live
BBC Sport website
The Bolton fighter made his move in the third round, reeling off seven straight blows from 21-20 down to put himself in control at 27-21 up.

He continued to land his punches in the final round to ultimately enjoy a conclusive win.

"It was hard," Khan said. "I didn't expect it to be that hard.

"I was a bit nervous in the changing room but I was just excited to get in there.

"Terry (Edwards, Khan's coach) told me I was down on points (after two rounds) so I knew I had to pick it up.

"But at that point I knew my opponent was getting tired and my punches were flowing better and better."

AMIR KHAN'S RAPID RISE
Born: 8 December 1986
Lives: Bolton
Hero: Muhammad Ali
Achievements:
2003 - Gold at Junior Olympics
2004 - Gold at European Championships and World Junior Championships
2004 - Wins Strandja Cup to qualify for Olympics
2004 - Beats Marios Kaperonis, Dimitar Stilianov and Jong Sub Baik to earn at least a bronze medal

Khan will meet Cuban Mario Cesar Kindelan Mesa in the final, who beat Russian Murat Khrachev 20-10 on points in the other semi-final.

The bout is scheduled to start at 1241 BST on Sunday.

He is confident he can continue his impressive run all the way to the gold medal.

"It was a bonus just to get this far but I think I can do the same to my next opponent," he added.

"I will be more motivated and more relaxed in the final."

The great Floyd Patterson was the last 17-year-old to win an Olympic crown in 1952 when he took the middleweight title.

Khan's hero is Muhammad Ali, who he now has a chance to emulate as Olympic champion.

He has scarcely put a foot wrong since arriving in Athens as Great Britain's sole boxing representative.

Overcoming a nervous start against Greece's Marios Kaperonis to record a comfortable points win, Khan then outclassed Dimitar Stilianov of Bulgaria.

He upped his performance again to destroy South Korea's Jong Sub Baik inside the first round in his quarter-final bout.

Even if Khan does clinch the gold, he has no plans - for the moment at least - to turn professional.

Nevertheless, there are aleady those predicting a glorious future for him in the paid ranks.

"There are professional fighters now that I think he could beat," said boxing promoter Frank Warren.

"If he turns pro I think he could win the world title at a young age, no doubt about that."





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