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ATHENS 2004

Ward's Streak Continues

Oakland fighter keeps win record going, but U.S. teammates Allen and Martirosyan lose.

August 20, 2004|Steve Springer | Times Staff Writer

ATHENS — It has been so long since Andre Ward lost a fight, he can't remember the details. For the record, it was six years and more than 100 amateur bouts ago, against Jesus Gonzales.

Ward's ability to keep that streak going here may be the best chance the U.S. has of winning Olympic gold in boxing for the first time in eight years.

Three U.S. fighters boxed Thursday, but Ward was the only winner. The Oakland fighter, a 178-pounder making his first appearance in Athens, won a 17-9 decision over Clemente Russo of Italy.

Vanes Martirosyan of Glendale (152 pounds) lost a 20-11 decision to Lorenzo Aragon of Cuba, and Rock Allen of Philadelphia (141) was defeated by Boris Georgiev of Bulgaria, 30-11.

Not that a man who has gone undefeated for six years needs additional confidence, but Ward got some anyway when he was invited to spar former heavyweight and light-heavyweight champion Roy Jones.

"He said I reminded him of himself," said Ward.

Did Jones also recall how he had lost his chance at Olympic gold when he was on the wrong end of one of the most controversial scoring decisions in Olympic boxing history?

"He didn't want to talk about that," Ward said.

There was no controversy for Ward on Thursday. He was never in danger, going on the offensive against Russo after a slow start, bloodying the Italian's lip and leaving him hopelessly outclassed.

Next up for Ward, in the quarterfinals Tuesday, is Russian Evgeny Makarenko, who is 6-feet-6 and has a streak Ward can relate to, having not lost in a major international tournament since 1999.

"He's not the first big guy I've fought," Ward said. "I've been fighting giants all my life."

Martirosyan knew he faced a difficult task even before he stepped into the ring. He had fought Aragon in May and lost, 39-26.

It was another tough match for Martirosyan, at 18 a dozen years younger than Aragon.

Although replays indicated some points awarded early to Aragon were questionable, there was no question the Cuban was the superior fighter.

Allen's fate was sealed in the first round when Georgiev ran up a 6-0 lead and appeared to put Allen down with a right hand. It was ruled a slip, although Allen's legs slipped only after Georgiev connected with his chin.

With 106-pounder Rau'Shee Warren having lost Wednesday, six U.S. boxers remain in the tournament. Besides Ward are Vincente Escobedo (132 pounds) who fights today, Ron Siler (112), Andre Dirrell (165), Devon Vargas (heavyweight) and Jason Estrada (super-heavyweight).

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