Sunday, January 28, 2001

Olympic boxers win pro debuts




By John Erardi
The Cincinnati Enquirer

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Ricardo Williams

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Dante Craig

(AP photos)
        NEW YORK — Ricardo Williams Jr. used his jab and left hand to confuse and hurt Anthony Simpkins and win his pro debut by a technical knockout in the fourth round Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.

        Williams, the Olympic silver medalist, lived up to his billing as the headliner for the HBO made-for-TV show.

        In the fourth round, the left-handed Williams landed a series of straight lefts. Over the final 40 seconds of the fight, Williams hit Simpkins at least eight times.

        The referee stopped it at 2:10 of the final round.

        “I wanted to take care of business, but at the same time I wanted to put on a good show for those three busloads of fans who rode up from Cincinnati,” said Williams, who is fighting at 135 pounds.

        The nine-bout card featured five Olympians making their pro debuts, including 147-pounder Dante Craig, Williams' fellow Cincinnatian, who nailed Darren Fallen (1-1) with a booming right two minutes into the first round, crumpling into the corner and forcing the referee to stop it when Fallen got up wobbly.

        “If this was an amateur bout, the fight would probably still be going on,” said Craig, five minutes later. “The headgear would have protected him.”

        “The first time I got hit, I stepped back and said, "Oh, man! That stung without the head-gear on,'” Williams said. “But I took it good. I just kept moving and sticking, doing what I do best.”

       



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