THE SEOUL GAMES / DAY 10 : Boxing : U.S. Heavyweight Mercer Does Better in Ring Than Cheering Section
Ray Mercer, U.S. heavyweight boxer, won in his first bout Monday at the Olympic boxing tournament, a day after he was stopped by security guards at Chamshil Students’ Gymnasium.
While flyweight Arthur Johnson was boxing a South Korean Sunday night before a capacity crowd, mostly of cheering South Koreans, Mercer decided he needed to add some life to the U.S. rooting section.
He grabbed a big American flag and began running around the arena, as several other South Korean fans were doing. Security personnel allowed the South Koreans to run around with the flags, but Mercer was grabbed and told to stop.
Early Monday afternoon, Mercer, who had been waiting 9 days to box here, finally had his chance, and pronounced himself rusty afterward.
He landed right- and left-hand punches at will for nearly three rounds against Czechoslovakia’s Rudolf Gavenciak. Referee Han Dong Jim of South Korea applied a standing-eight count to Gavenciak in the first and second rounds, and stopped it with 35 seconds left in the bout.
Mercer’s win improved the U.S. record to 16-3 in the tournament.
Also Monday morning, bantamweight Kennedy McKinney advanced to the tournament’s quarterfinal round with a walkover, when his opponent couldn’t box because of an injured arm.
And welterweight Ken Gould also advanced, on a 5-0 decision win over Francis Masoe of American Samoa.
There were two major surprises at the tournament Monday morning, both involving East Germans.
Bantamweight Rene Breithbart of East Germany, silver medalist at the 1986 world championships, was eliminated by Colombia’s Jorge Julio-Rocha on a 4-1 decision. Julio-Rocha looms as a possible McKinney opponent in the gold-medal bout.
And East Germany’s welterweight, Siegfried Mehnert was eliminated by South Korean Song Kyung Sup on a 3-2 decision. Two judges called it a 58-58 tie and designated Song the winner, and one had Song by 59-58.
In amateur boxing scoring, a judge can score a bout a draw, but he must designate a winner. The judges scoring for South Korea were from the Dominican Republic, Chinese Taipei and the Ivory Coast. Uganda and Uruguay scored it for Mehnert, the World Cup champion. The East Germans were furious with the decision, and many in the press section were surprised.
Johnson’s bout with Kim Kwang Sun drew the first full house of the tournament in Sunday night’s session, about 6,500, and most of them South Koreans.
Johnson was simply overpowered by the stronger Kim. In 1984, Kim was the gold-medal favorite in the light-flyweight division, until he met East Los Angeles’ Paul Gonzales in the first round of the preliminaries. Gonzales, who won the gold, knocked Kim down in the first round, then beat him soundly.
An Olympiad later, Kim finally had his day against an American.
A stocky, short-armed slugger, Kim got inside on the taller Johnson to score enough short hooks to the head and rights to the body--much to the glee of the roaring South Korea-dominated crowd.
The judges from Tunisia and Peru had it 60-56 and 60-55 for the South Korean. The other three cards, from Greece, Romania and Egypt, were 59-58, 60-57 and 60-58.
“I had a dream of a gold medal, now I got reality,” Johnson said. “He was very tough, but I fought the best fight I possibly could,” he said, his voice starting to break.
“I have no regrets. I fought my fight. I thought I won--I blocked a lot of those punches with my arms, but the judges don’t see that. The crowd was doin’ a lot of hollerin'--it was just his show, that’s all.”
Light-heavyweight Andrew Maynard looked awful in his debut Sunday, against a Samoan, Mikaele Masoe. Maynard boxed two sloppy rounds before stopping the Samoan, late in the second.
Olympic Boxing Notes
The U.S. delegation is furious with South Korea’s boxing federation. One of the five South Koreans suspended in the ring-B riot Thursday, trainer Lee Heung Soo has attended every bout involving a South Korean and has shouted instructions to his boxers. Paul Konnor, U.S. representative on the International Amateur Boxing Assn. (AIBA), said he has complained to AIBA president Anwar Chowdry of Pakistan. The South Koreans insist, he said, that Lee can be in the arena as a spectator.