ATHENS, Greece (AP) - The best amateur boxers know just how to move and exactly when to pounce, and three Americans who failed to match that style are
out of the Olympics. Lightweight Vicente Escobedo became the latest to exit Friday, getting beaten 36-18 by Azerbaijan's Rovshan Huseynov on Friday.
That leaves just five Americans in the tournament.
In second-round matches Thursday, Rock Allen was pounded 30-10 in his light welterweight bout, and welterweight Vanes Martirosyan was beaten 20-11 by
Cuba's Lorenzo Aragon.
Light heavyweight Andre Ward advanced to the quarterfinals Thursday with a 17-9 win over Italy's Clemente Russo, but he soon will have the same
problems as his teammates. Ward's next fight is against Russia's Evgeny Makarenko, a two-time world champion who battered Cuba's Yoan Pablo Hernandez
moments before Ward's fight.
The U.S. sent eight fighters into the second round with six victories and two byes, but coach Basheer Abdullah knows it will be tough to improve on
the four medals won by American boxers four years ago in Sydney. Americans once dominated Olympic boxing, but scoring changes and the lure of
professional money have eviscerated the program.
"We have yet to prove as a team that we can compete against the best in the world," Abdullah said. "Those bouts that we won, we were supposed to win
those bouts. If we could have won against a Cuban or a Bulgarian, that would have been a great start to the round for us."
Escobedo, a Woodland, Calif., native, came out far too tentatively against Huseynov, who hurt the 22-year-old with brief flurries of punches and
constant movement. By the time Escobedo picked up his pace in the final two rounds, Huseynov could run away and counterpunch.
"I did nothing to start," Escobedo said. "I should have had a lead, and I started too slow. I should have been consistent with my punches. ... He
fought a smart fight. I felt like he was holding, but he did what he needed to do to win."
In his only fight of the Olympics, Allen fell behind Georgiev early and never caught up. Not in the ring, where Georgiev practically ran circles
around him, or on the scoreboard.
Allen, a Philadelphia native who will turn pro in a few weeks, knows all about the problems with amateur boxing for fighters who share his
power-based, stand-and-punch style.
"Olympic-style boxing moves at a much faster pace for those short four rounds," Allen said. "In the pros, we've got all kinds of time. The best guys
at the Olympics are veteran guys, and this is all they know. A lot of these guys, you're going to see in 2008 or 2012. I have a pro style, and it's
hard for me to adapt."
Martirosyan had an entirely different set of problems against Aragon, a master of the punching technique that generates the best Olympic results.
Aragon seemed to score points with any sort of punch, while Martirosyan only scored for his best hits.
Martirosyan, who was born in Armenia, staggered Aragon twice with quick shots to the head, but the Cuban piled up enough early points to hang on in a
fight much closer than the score.
"He tries to frustrate you with the holding," Martirosyan said. "He holds you, pulls you back and makes it look like you're holding, and you're not.
It frustrates you. I thought I scored more points, and I thought I should have won."
It's a familiar refrain for fighters facing the Cuban team, which is given a world of respect by amateur judges. Ditto for the Russians: Welterweight
Oleg Saitov, a two-time gold medalist, beat Egypt's Mohamed Hikal 18-17 Thursday night even though Hikal dominated the first three rounds.