Sunday, February 06, 2000

Closeups of other Olympic Trials boxers

        • Gerald Tucker

        Tucker received boffo reviews when he won Pan-Am Gold over Venezuela's Neouar Cermeno in the 119-pound weight class last summer in Canada.

        Tucker is ranked No.2 in the 119-pound weight class.

        The boxer he figures to have to beat for the gold in Tampa is Clarence Vinson, of Washington, D.C., who has beaten Tucker four of the five times they've met in the ring.

        “I've never been fully conditioned when I've boxed him, but now I am,” said Tucker, a graduate of Purcell Marian High School.

        He's been running six miles a day, training daily in the gym, and swimming laps at night.

        It may turn out to be the difference.

        “Every time I lost to him it was by a point,” Tucker said.

        Tucker, 21, an Olympic alternate in 1996, has been in Texas the last few months — some of the time in Houston, but the most of it in San Antonio, where he's been able to get the best sparring.

        “I had to get away from Cincinnati a little bit to avoid the distractions and get the workouts I needed,” said Tucker, who is a three-timer winner of the Police Athletic League tournament, most recently in Orlando, Fla.

        How does he rate his chances in Tampa?

        “I can beat all of the guys in my weight class,” he said, “but it's a sport, which means it can go either way.”

        • Ron Siler Jr.

        Siler Jr. won the National Golden Gloves tournament last May in the 106-pound weight class.

        He lost a tough fight to the Cuban boxer, Maikros Romero, who went on to win the gold in the Pan-Am games in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

        “I lost to him by a point,” said Siler Jr., 19. “"He'd been undefeated since 1990. That's the year I started boxing. I was 10 years old.”

        Siler Jr. said he thinks he beat Romero — “everybody in the audience told me they thought I won the fight” — but that judges didn't want a new face to upset the two-time Olympic gold medalist.

        “I moved and boxed real well that day,” Siler Jr. said. “My coaches did not tell me I was ahead in the fight, so I went toe-to-toe with him in the last round and that's where I think I lost it.”

        The hunger from losing that bout has made him train even harder.

        “I feel I'm the best in my weight class,” he said.

        Six weeks before losing to the Cuban, he had finished third in the U.S. Amateur Boxing Challenge in Colorado Springs, Colo.

        In November, he won a challenge match in England.

        “I've been running six miles a day, five days a week, for three months,” Siler Jr. said. “Then, in the last month or so, I've cranked it up to six days a week. That's going to give me some extra wind, so that when I get to the fourth round in Tampa, I'm going to be able to sprint it out in the last minute of the bout.”

        He's been working out 21/2 hours daily in the gym.

        “For a while, I wasn't getting the sparring I needed, but then in the last two weeks my coach has brought me in a good sparring partner,” Tucker said. “He's been giving me a real good workout. I'm ready to go.”

        • Dante Craig

        Craig, 21, who won the National Golden Gloves tournament in Syracuse, N.Y., last May, said his spot in the rankings of the 147-pound weight class slipped from No.2 to No.8, by the end of the year.

        “I don't know why,” said the Woodward High School graduate. “I win every time I fight. “I won the last tournament of the year in Milwaukee, and that was supposed to be the Final Four, top four boxers in my weight class.”

        Sometimes these things get political.

        Craig will be glad for the opportunity to prove the experts wrong.

        “The rankings don't mean anything once you get into the ring,” hue said. “I"m looking forward to the opportunity.”

        He and Williams Jr. have known each other since their days growing up in Parktown in the West End. They still spar occasionally, and there is nothing better to gauge their tournament-readiness.

        Williams Jr. compares sparring with Craig to “fighting an international bout.”

        “It's awkward for me,” Williams Jr. said. “(But) that's good. Dante keeps his hands up, turns his punches just right.”

        — John Erardi

4 local boxers take first step toward Olympics
Williams climbing hills to Mt. Olympus
- Closeups of other Olympic Trials boxers

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