THE SEOUL GAMES / DAY 5 : Boxing : Carbajal Wins a Brawl, Holds Up U.S. Hopes

Times Staff Writer

In the wake of Sunday’s stunning knockout of Kelcie Banks, and Monday’s late arrival by Anthony Hembrick, the U.S. Olympic boxing team needed another lift here Wednesday.

Welterweight Ken Gould had provided one Tuesday and the burden Wednesday fell on the slight shoulders of the smallest American of them all, 106-pound Michael Carbajal. And the Phoenix light-flyweight came through.

He not only beat a tough South Korean, but also outlasted a noisy home crowd and a Greek referee later called incompetent by the Americans.

In what came close to a brawl, Carbajal gained a hard-earned 3-2 decision over Oh Kwang-Soo, who had beaten Carbajal in Seoul on a 3-0 decision last year.


There were gloomy predictions by some U.S. boxing officials before these Olympics, after the International Amateur Boxing Assn. had thrown out the guideline calling for judges from 5 neutral continents. The odds, if not the politics, of international judging were stacked against the Americans, so the theory went.

So far, so good, however. Besides Carbajal, Arthur Johnson and Gould also have won on decisions.

Carbajal was awarded 59-58 margins by judges from Nigeria, Australia and Peru. A Soviet judge voted for Oh, 60-59, and an Egyptian judge called it 60-58 for Oh.

This fight looked as if it belonged in the Greco-Roman wrestling venue.


Oh served up a mauling, holding, grabbing attack, with Carbajal barely able to score with enough popping left jabs and body blows to pull it out.

The left-handed Oh was cautioned continually by Greek referee Vidalis Theodoros for putting his left hand behind Carbajal’s neck and pulling his head down. But at the same time, he was cautioning Carbajal for ducking below his opponent’s belt line.

Preposterous, the Americans later claimed.

“I screamed at the ref all bout long,” Coach Ken Adams said. “The Korean must have grabbed (Carbajal’s) neck 7 times.”


Holding an opponent’s neck is a rule violation, and Oh did it often enough to have been disqualified, according to U.S. referee-judge Jerry Dusenberry of Portland, Ore.

Observers in the press section counted 6 to 8 cautions to Oh by the referee. Adams claimed 7. At 5, the bout should have been terminated, according to Dusenberry.

“The rule book is quite clear,” he said.

“For the same offense, you caution the boxer twice. For the third offense, you give him a warning, and you indicate to the judges a point is to be deducted.


“On the fourth infraction, there is another warning and another point deducted. On the fifth infraction, the boxer is disqualified.”

But Theodoros, as the Americans saw it, called a long series of cautions and never went to warnings.

Just the same, the soft-spoken Carbajal will take it.

“All he was doing was grabbing my head and pulling it down,” Carbajal said.


“Every time he missed me with his left, he’d leave his hand behind my head, grab my neck, and pull me down. He caught me with a couple of good straight rights, but I thought I won the fight.

“I hurt him pretty good with a right hand in the first round, when he was backing up.”

The South Korean had help from about 3,000 spectators, the overwhelming majority of them South Koreans. They rocked the building with chants of “Oh Kwang-Soo!’

But in the tumult, Carbajal’s teammates, Riddick Bowe, Anthony Hembrick and Ray Mercer, could be heard raising a fuss, too.


Carbajal and his teammates have been told by Adams to “Shut up the Korean crowds.”

“Yeah, and Michael did it, too,” Adams said.

“Oh, man, I though they’d never announce that decision.”

“I couldn’t find Paul Konnor (the U.S. representative to the AIBA) at the scoring table for a while. But when I finally spotted him, he already knew the score. He gave me a thumbs-up sign, and I felt like, well, it was great.”


The tall, slender Carbajal doesn’t look like the type to survive a roughhouse bout, but he did.

“We’d seen him before, we knew it would be roughhouse,” Adams said of Oh.

“Michael worked very hard in a very tough bout. He earned it.”

Adams said he wouldn’t ask that a complaint be filed against the Greek referee.


“I was yelling at him throughout the bout,” Adams said. “He knew I didn’t like what he was doing. Making any more of it, well, we don’t want to make any more waves right now.”