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US Fighters Advance in Championships

August 24, 1999

HOUSTON (AP) _ U.S. light-flyweight champion Brian Viloria struggled and heavyweight Michael Bennett cruised, but both Americans advanced to the semifinals of the World Amateur Boxing Championships Tuesday.

Trailing on points at the start of the fourth round, Viloria rallied with a furious charge to beat Brahim Asloum of France.

Bennett, entered in his first international tournament, continued his surprising showing with a 6-0 victory over Serik Umirbekov of Kazakhstan.

Teammate Clarence Vinson, three-time U.S. bantamweight champion, was defeated by Zakhid Mekhtsiyeu of Belarus.

Three more U.S. fighters were on the evening card.

Viloria punched his way to victory. Tied 3-3 on points, Viloria threw 34 punches to 15 for Asloum

``That guy was very tough,″ Viloria said. ``He kept his hands up the entire fight. I couldn’t score unless I could make some openings. The coaches told me I was down on points so I tried to give more heat and punches.

``Then I just hoped.″

Bennett, who has been boxing for only one year, was off-balance with many of his punches and lurched at times, but his power was too much for Umirbekov. Bennett was ahead 4-0 on points going into the final round, where he extended his lead.

``I feel great, I feel strong, not physically but mentally,″ Bennett said. ``I didn’t know what to expect. I came here to do my best. I didn’t expect to lose and I didn’t expect to win, just do the best I can.″

Two-time Olympic heavyweight champion Felix Savon of Cuba also reached the semifinals with a 9-2 victory over Rustam Chagaev of Uzbekistan.

Vinson was even on points with Mekhtsiyeu going into the third round, but fell behind in the third and didn’t score a point in the fourth round, losing the bout 7-4.

In other bouts, 1998 Goodwill Games welterweight gold medalist Juan Hernandez of Cuba beat Adrian Suteu of Austria 10-2 and 1998 Goodwill Games light-flyweight champion Maikro Romero of Cuba beat Pal Lakatos of Hungary.

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