Youth Is Served at Boxing Trails
ED SCHUYLER JR.
Feb. 10, 2000
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) _ For Roberto Guerrero, the Olympics are a bright and shining dream. For Darnell Wilson, they're a fading hope.
The 16-year-old Guerrero, the youngest boxer in the tournament, took a first step on the long, tough road to Sydney for the 2000 Olympics by winning his opening bouts Wednesday at the U.S. Olympic trials.
The 33-year-old Wilson, however, was dropped into the challenger's (losers) bracket.
``I kind of had butterflies, but I wasn't scared of boxing,'' Guerrero said after advancing to the 119-pound semifinals with a 10-7 win over 21-year-old Jason Franco of the Army at Ft. Collins, Colo.
``They said I wasn't old enough to go to the Olympics,'' said Guerrero, a high school sophomore from Gilroy, Calif. The minimum age limit for the Olympic is 17.
``But then my father (Ruben, also his trainer) checked and found out the Olympic deadline for turning 17 is March 27. Guerrero will turn 17 on March 27.
Wilson, of Lafayette, Ind., was outpointed 14-3 by 21-year-old Anthony Hanshaw of Mansfield, Ohio, at 156 pounds. If Wilson wins the losers bracket in his class, he would go to the box-offs against the trials champion and would need to win twice to keep alive his Olympic hopes.
The box-offs will be held Feb. 24-26 at Foxwoods Casino at Mashantucket, Conn. Previously the box-off winners automatically went to the Olympics. Not this year.
The box-off winners will have to qualify at one of three Americas qualifying tournaments _ at Tampa, Mexico City and Buenos Aires.
The opening day turned into a nightmare of their own making for Tiger and Rock Allen, identical 18-year-old twins from Philadelphia.
Tiger was unable to compete at 125 pounds when he weighed in 4 1/2 pounds over the class limit. Rock outpointed Mahlon Kerwick of Spokane, Wash., 16-9 at 132 pounds, but he later was disqualified when it was disclosed that Tiger had weighed in for him and signed paperwork on his behalf. Kerwick was declared the winner.
The twins' father-coach, Naazim Richardson. refused to let his sons appear before the USA Boxing's grievance committee to answer questions. They did not talk to the media.
Brotherly love could be tested _ at least in the ring _ in the 106-pound class, where Nonito and Glenn Donaire of San Leandro, Calif. both advanced during the day session at the Tampa Port Authority Cruise Terminal No. 6. If both win tonight, they will box in the final Saturday.
``It doesn't really matter who wins as long as one of us goes to the Olympics,'' said 20-year-old Glenn Donaire, who often spars with 17-year-old Nonito, but has never opposed him in an official bout.
Nonito Donaire opened the tournament by counter-punching his way to a 19-7 win over Ronald Siler of Cincinnati. He then watched and rooted as Glenn overwhelmed Karoz Norman of St. Louis 26-9 after four 2-minute rounds, the Olympic format.
The Donaire brothers, who came to the United States from the Philippines in 1993, are trained by their father, Nonito Sr., and Robert Salinas. If they meet in this tournament, the father will work in Nonito's corner.
The day started poorly for the brothers LeChaunce and Teaunce Shepherd, students at Northern Michigan University, but it ended on a winning note.
Dante Craig of Cincinnati, the 1999 Golden Gloves champion, scored a 14-12 decision over 25-year-old LeChaunce Shepherd, the 1997 and 2000 U.S. champion and a 1999 Pan American Games bronze medalist. Shepherd also lost his opening bout in the 1996 Olympic Trials.
Shepherd landed the harder punches, especially left hooks, but the 21-year-old Craig was busier.
The 22-year-old Teaunce Shepherd, a silver medalist at the U.S. championships, was too experienced for Verquan Kimbrough of Aliquippa, Pa., and won their 125-pound bout 18-4 on the night program.
Fifty-four boxers from the Americas will qualify for the Sydney Olympics. Cuba does not need to qualify and will automatically field a full squad as the world's top-ranked team.
Qualifying for the Olympics will be the winners and runners-up in 10 weight classes from 106 through 178 pounds, and the winners at 201 pounds and super heavyweight at Tampa on March 27-April 1 and at Mexico City on April 17-22.
The winners in the lower 10 weight classes at Buenos Aires on May 23-28 also will qualify for Sydney.