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Craig Handed First U.S. Loss

September 22, 2000|From Associated Press

SYDNEY, Australia — Clarence Vinson became the first American to win two bouts at the Olympics, while Dante Craig became the first to lose.

The 5-foot-2 Vinson of Washington, D.C., outpointed Taalaibek Kadiraliev of Kyrgyzstan, 12-7, in a rough-and-tumble fight at 119 pounds Thursday in the Sydney Exhibition Center.

"I'll take an ugly win over a loss any day," the 22-year-old Vinson said. "He was a rough inside fighter. He had an awkward style."

Vinson's win was the 11th straight for the U.S. team. But then the 22-year-old Craig lost, 9-4, to Bulent Ulusoy of Turkey in a second-round match at 147 pounds.

"I'm mad because I believed before I went into the ring I was the better man," Craig said. "It's just hard to be the first one to lose."

Vinson caught the circling, backpedaling Kadiraliev enough in the first three rounds to build a 8-5 lead. Then in the rough fourth, Kadiraliev was penalized for a hold (a penalty adds two points to the opponent's score) to give Vinson a 10-5 lead. Almost immediately, Vinson was penalized for pushing and his lead was cut to 10-7. He clinched the match by scoring with a left hook and a right to the head.

In the quarterfinals, Vinson will box world champion Olteanu George Crinu of Romania.

Craig couldn't solve Ulusoy's left-handed style. The Turk took charge in the second round when he knocked down Craig with a right to the head and built a 5-3 lead. Craig was off-balance when he was hit with the right, but it was a legitimate knockdown.

A frustrated Craig began lunging and did not score a point in the third round when Ulusoy padded his lead to 8-3 and clinched the victory.

Michael Bennett of Chicago gave the Americans their 10th victory when he outpointed mauling Wojciech Bartnik of Poland, 11-2, and set up a much-anticipated 201-pound quarterfinal match against Cuban great Felix Savon on Tuesday.

Savon, bidding to become the third boxer to win three Olympic gold medals, stopped Rasmus Ojemaye of Nigeria in the second round on the 15-point rule (17-2).

"I'm not intimidated by any man," said the 29-year-old Bennett, who became a U.S. and world champion after being released in July 1998 from prison after serving seven years for robbery.

The 6-foot Bennett, the reigning U.S. champion, chased the 32-year-old Bartnik, a 1996 Olympic bronze medalist at 178 pounds, for the first two rounds and built a 5-0 lead. Two of those scoring blows came when Bennett switched to a left-handed style for part of the second round. Bartnik resorted to roughhouse tactics to no avail in the final two rounds. Just before the final bell, the 32-year-old Bartnik hit Bennett hard with a shoulder.

The 6-6 Savon, a six-time world champion who lists his age as 33, had an eight-inch height advantage over Ojemaye, who took two standing eight counts. Savon, landing hard rights and stiff left jabs, led 12-1 after one round.

Bennett was supposed to box Savon in the final at the world championships last year in Houston, but he won on a walkover when Savon refused to fight to protest a decision that went against a Cuban in an earlier bout.

"I've been looking forward to it [boxing Savon] since the worlds," Bennett said. "I want to compete against the best."

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