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A bronze medal at least will be in the young but lightning-quick hands of Amir Khan if he wins his lightweight quarter-final on Tuesday night.

Both losing semi-finalists receive a bronze in Olympic boxing, so Britain's sole representative in the ring at Athens has only to beat Jong Sub Baik of South Korea in order to win a medal at the tender age of 17.

The teenager from Bolton should not be short of confidence following his two impressive performances in the tournament so far. He first stopped Greece's inexperienced Marios Kaperonis in three rounds, and then dispatched the seasoned Bulgarian southpaw Dimitar Stilianov on points. Beating Stilianov was no mean feat: the Bulgarian is 11 years his senior and is the current European champion. He has twice won medals at amateur boxing's world championships. Khan too was in Pula, Croatia, at the European championships in May, where he lost at the quarter-final stage. However, he had three high-quality fights there, giving him some valuable experience from which he is now benefiting.

Indeed, Khan's preparation for the Olympics appears to have been perfect. He has had 14 contests this year before Athens, and although it is unusual for an amateur international to box more than a dozen times in a year, the extra work seems to have speeded the development of the youngster. The recent experience combined with his speed, timing and instinctive talent, have made Khan a daunting opponent at the Olympics.

So daunting that he will start favourite on Tuesday against a fighter who is the reigning Asian champion. To earn that status Baik, 24, has had to beat the best the boxing strongholds of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan have to offer. The South Korean likes to get in as close as possible to his opponents and most of his punches travel short distances, which could cause Khan problems if he enters the ring over-confident.

Khan must also avoid being drawn into a physical contest, which would favour the Korean. But if he relaxes too much Baik could seize the initiative. The way that amateur boxing is scored means that a boxer trailing going into the fourth and last round has a difficult task.

Baik and his trainers are taking the threat of Khan extremely seriously and in addition to acquiring tapes of his two fights in the Olympic tournament they have also been supplied with recordings of Khan's five wins at the world under-19 championships in Juju, South Korea, in June.

If Khan can overcome Baik and then proceed through the semi-finals, he would be likely to face Mario Kindelan of Cuba, the Olympic and world champion, in the final.

In May Khan was outpointed by Kindelan at a pre-Olympic tournament in Athens. But with Khan improving with every fight, a re-match would be a tantalising prospect.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.
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