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At Least Dirrell Gets the Point of This Event

He advances at 165 pounds, after the slow-starting Siler is eliminated.

August 22, 2004|Steve Springer | Times Staff Writer

ATHENS — Andre Dirrell has been paying attention. The 165-pound member of the U.S. boxing team watched teammate after teammate be eliminated from the Olympic tournament, the latest being 112-pounder Ron Siler, who was defeated Saturday afternoon by Tulashboy Doniyorov of Uzbekistan, 45-22.

In each case, U.S. fighters were hampered by a lack of early aggressiveness, a failure to exhibit some sense of urgency, and a tendency to let the opponent quickly build a lead. In the Olympics, with four two-minute rounds, an early lead usually means a permanent lead. Once ahead, opponents dance and move, scoring just enough to maintain control of the bout without exposing themselves to blows that could tighten the match.

None of that was a problem for Dirrell on Saturday. Facing Nabil Kassel of Algeria, Dirrell came out swinging at the opening bell and never let up until the mercy rule was invoked, giving him a 27-7 victory and a slot in the quarterfinals.

"I really focused on what I needed to do," said Dirrell, from Flint, Mich. "I knew [Kassel] was slow, and I knew I had him where I wanted him after that first left hand landed."

If a boxer goes up on his opponent by 20 points in the first three rounds, the bout is stopped. Dirrell, connecting consistently with both hands in a relentless attack, reached the 20-point mark with one second remaining in the second round. But the round was allowed to end, and the one-minute break between rounds was maintained. It wasn't until the fighters were off their stools for the start of the third round that the match-ending disparity was recognized and Dirrell's hand was raised.

Unlike Dirrell, Siler seemed to come out lost in his match.

Time and again he was beaten to the punch, falling behind 9-6 after one round, 17-10 after two, 32-17 after three.

"I wasn't on today," Siler said. "I knew what I wanted to do in my mind, but it just didn't come out in my boxing. But [Doniyorov] didn't frustrate me."

Perhaps not, but Siler certainly frustrated his coach, Basheer Abdullah.

"He wasn't able to execute the things we drew up for him," Abdullah said. "You're at the Olympics. You've got to make it happen."

Quarterfinal bouts start tonight, with U.S. heavyweight Devin Vargas of Toledo, Ohio, taking on Viktar Zuyev of Belarus. Other Americans still in the tournament are 178-pounder Andre Ward and super-heavyweight Jason Estrada.

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