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5 U.S. Boxers in Goodwill Finals

July 31, 1998

NEW YORK (AP) _ With poor expectations and positive results, American boxers have ridden through the Goodwill Games like youngsters on a roller-coaster.

American fighters have won 17 medals in these Games, eight of which will be gold or silver. Bronze medals are awarded to all fighters who lose in the semifinals.

``Everyone was saying that we were only going to win one medal, but look where we are,″ said Jermain Taylor of Little Rock, Ark., who lost his light middleweight semifinal bout Thursday night 13-9 to Gaidarbek Gaidarbekov of Russia.

The United States placed fighters in 10 of the 12 Thursday bouts at the Theater at Madison Square Garden and won five. Three of the seven American semifinalists who fought on Wednesday advanced to the final round.

``They’ve been saying that USA boxing hasn’t been doing well,″ said middleweight Darnell Wilson who was beaten by two-time Olympic silver medalist Juan Hernandez of Cuba. ``But look how we’ve been doing in this tournament.″

Hernandez, the world championship light middleweight bronze medalist, dominated the two-time United States champion 12-1.

Michael Evans of Dayton, Ohio lost a 3-2 decision to Russian featherweight Andrei Koslovsky in the first fight on the card, right before Taylor’s loss.

The Americans responded by winning five of their next eight fights.

With an average age of 19, the Americans give up a lot of ring experience to their international competitors who average 26 years of age.

``We’re a good team, but we’re young,″ Evans said. ``It’s a lot of our first times boxing in international competition.″

Two fighters from Fort Carson, Colo., split their bouts. Olanda Anderson, the top-ranked American light heavyweight, picked up a 5-1 victory over Russian Denis Lebedev, while flyweight John Medina was frustrated and bloodied by the awkward style of Kazakstan’s Yersin Jailauov in an 11-1 loss.

Anderson will face Isael Alvarez of Cuba for the light heavyweight gold medal on Saturday’s final card.

``Russians are always tough,″ Anderson said. ``The Russians and the Cubans are on the same playing field. They’re both technical fighters.″

Roberto Benitez, a flyweight from Marquette, Mich., overpowered Vakhtang Darchinyan of Armenia 18-8. Featherweight Teaunce Shepherd, also from Marquette, then beat Russia’s Aleksandr Mitishev 8-4.

Benitez, who turned 18 on Thursday, will take on Jailauov and Shepherd, who lost to Evans for the U.S. Championship, will face Koslovsky. Light welterweight Ebo Elder from Newman, Ga., edged Russian Dmitri Pavluchenkov 12-11 and will fight Cincinnati’s Ricardo Williams, Jr., who defeated Paata Gvasaliya, also of Russia, 12-5.

The card ended with Alexis Rubalcaba of Cuba winning a 11-9 slugfest over another Marquette fighter, Dominick Guinn, in the super heavyweight division.

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