Thursday, September 21, 2000

Craig first U.S. boxer to lose




By PAUL DAUGHERTY
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        SYDNEY - Dante Craig's pleasantly surprising road to the Olympics ended Thursday night. Bulent Ulusoy, a seasoned Turk, outpointed Craig, 9-4 in a second-round welterweight fight.

        Craig was the first American boxer to lose in the Games.

        The Woodward High graduate said Ulusoy's style -- clinching, scoring while backing away and, most importantly, left-handed -- kept him from repeating his impressive performance in Round 1.

        ""I couldn't get started,'' said Craig. ""I was lunging into my punches.''

        The score was 1-1 after the first round. With 1:03 left in the second, Ulusoy landed a left to the ribs that knocked Craig off balance, then caught Craig with a right to the head, knocking him down. Craig took a standing-eight count and finished the round behind, 5-3.

        He never challenged Ulusoy, the reigning European welterweight champ, after that.

        "Lots of tricks,'' U.S. coach Tom Mustin said of Ulusoy. "A guy that slick I knew would give Dante problems.''

        Craig overcame a fractured hand to make the team, but his lack of international experience caught up to him against Ulusoy. But, as Mustin said, "I know he's feeling bad, but I think he's feeling proud of himself for getting as far as he did.''

        "I came out of nowhere to get here,'' Craig said. "I just hope I didn't let us down.''

        Fellow Cincinnatian Ricardo Williams fights his second-round bout Sept. 24.



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