Tarver Wins Opening Bout; Cubans On A Roll
Jul. 24, 1996
ATLANTA (AP) _ Antonio Tarver struggled to an opening round win today over Russia's Dmitry Vybornov in a nearly punchless bout that left even U.S. fans in the Olympic boxing arena booing his performance.
Looking anything like the gold medal favorite, Tarver barely threw a punch for two rounds before finally getting aggressive in the third round and pulling out a 5-2 win in the light heavyweight bout.
The crowd that booed the lack of action after each round at the Alexander Memorial Coliseum erupted in a mixture of cheers and jeers when the decision was announced.
Tarver, of Orlando, Fla., is the reigning world and Pan Am Games champion.
Tarver looked to counterpunch through the first two rounds and was ahead only 1-0 after one round and 3-2 after the second. He landed a right and a left hand in the third round to make up the scoring difference.
Tarver's win moved the U.S. record to 8-1, with 11 of 12 boxers still in the competition for medals.
A day earlier, U.S. coach Al Mitchell, promised to send middleweight David Reid to bed early after his winning Olympic debut.
Reid's crime? Dropping his hands during the third round of his rout of South Korea's Lee Wan-Kyun.
``Don't think I'm joking about it,'' Mitchell said. `He's going to bed an hour early tonight. Then he'll remember it.''
Mitchell's promise spoke of the disciplinarian style of U.S. coaches, who spent three months trying to meld a group of young and mostly street-tough U.S. boxers into gold medal contenders.
So far it has worked, with only Eric Morel's loss Tuesday to Cuba's Maiko Romero marring an otherwise impressive first four days of competition for the U.S. team.
``He (Mitchell) was yelling `Keep your hands up, keep your hands up,'' Reid said after beating Lee 20-4. ``But I felt good in the ring and that was just my style coming out.''
Reid, who had to survive a knee to the chest from the frustrated Korean in the final seconds, became the seventh U.S. boxer to win an opening round match in the Olympic tournament.
The win may have been needed by a U.S. team that a few bouts earlier had watched the 112-pound Morel get off to a slow start and lose 24-12 to Romero in the initial U.S.-Cuba matchup.
``I wanted to go in there and win my bout and lift the whole team up,'' said Reid, a Philadelphia boxer who won a gold medal in last year's Pan Am Games. ``The only team we've lost to so far is Cuba. I wanted to show that the U.S. team is tough.''
Reid used his right hand to land enough scoring blows to build up an 11-2 lead after two rounds. But when his coaches wanted him to fight defensively in the third round, he couldn't.
The result was an entertaining final round that Reid was easily winning until Lee suddenly raised a knee up in frustration and hit a crouching Reid in the chest. Lee was penalized, but Reid was still a little nervous when the Korean approached him after the fight.
``He just said, `You're the winner,''' Reid said. ``I thought he wanted to hit me or something.''
Romero's win earlier over Morel was convincing as the Cuban ran up an 8-1 lead after the first round.
Morel, known as a slow starter, rallied some with some good right hands late in the second round but Romero was simply quicker and stronger as he piled up points in the final round. kill i2612 i2612,sptmsg is queued