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Tarver Wins Unimpressively

July 24, 1996

ATLANTA (AP) _ U.S. boxing star Antonio Tarver, a world champ, almost became an Olympic chump on Wednesday.

Tarver, the gold medal favorite in the 178-pound class, outpointed Russian Dmitri Vybornov 5-2 to a mixture of cheers and boos at the Alexander Memorial Coliseum.

It was a bad fight, at least from the fans’ point of view, and most of the crowd booed at the final bell. The later cheers were for Tarver’s victory.

``I thought his performance was lousy,″ said Al Mitchell, head coach of the U.S. team.

``I’m fortunate to get the `W.′ I’ll take it and I assure you I’ll get better,″ the 27-year-old Tarver said.

Tarver’s victory gave the U.S. team an 8-1 record. David Diaz of Chicago was to box at 139 pounds Wednesday night.

Cuban boxers remained unbeaten in 10 bouts when Hector Vinent, a 1992 Olympic champion, knocked down Han Hyung-Min and stopped the South Korean with two minutes remaining in the second round.

Tarver, a left-hander from Orlando, Fla., is a counterpuncher who likes to box. But after trying to do that for two rounds, he was ahead by a score of only 3-2 against the bullish, left-handed Russian and in real danger of losing.

``I came out to box, but it just wasn’t there for me,″ Tarver said. ``In the third round I found myself fighting, which for me is the last resort. I felt a little desperate in the third round when I had to throw out my boxing.″

In that round, Tarver made Vybornov back up for the first time in the bout. He scored with a right hand to the head with 1:28 left to make it 4-2 and then got the final point with a left to the head with 30 seconds.

Tarver landed a couple of nice jabs that weren’t recorded as scoring blows, but it seemed the Russian could have had a couple of more points, too.

There were only 36 seconds left in first round when Tarver got the first scoring blow, the only one in the round. Tarver went up 3-0 in the second, but the Russian fought back within a point.

``I guess I’ll have to start fighting from now on,″ said Tarver, who said he thought waiting for his first bout while watching his teammates box was a negative.

Mitchell said he wasn’t surprised by Tarver’s subpar performance, because of the wait and the pressure of being the favorite.

At the beginning of the postfight news conference, someone told Tarver he didn’t look happy.

``I’m not, actually,″ said Tarver, a winner nonetheless.

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