Cuban boxers showed their dominance during Wednesday's semifinals at the Goodwill Games on a night when the U.S. team fell flat.
While the Americans lost all three of their semifinal bouts, the Cubans went five for five, including a stunning five-second knockout by light-middleweight Juan Lemus and a devastating victory by heavyweight Felix Savon.
"From a day of joy and glee, we went down to nothing," said U.S. Coach Tom Coulter, one day after the Americans had gone 4-0.
The disappointment began when light-flyweight Albert Guardado of Topeka, Kan., was outpointed by Joon-Wook Choi of South Korea, 8-5. Then, Eric Morel of Madison, Wis., also a light-flyweight, was routed by Manuel Mantilla of Cuba, 19-8.
Then lightweight and team captain Larry Nicholson of Tyler, Tex., was defeated by Heiko Hinz of Germany, 16-10.
Nicholson crumpled over during the second round when the German appeared to land a low blow, but the officials failed to see it that way and Hinz was not penalized.
"He beat me with some illegal shots," Nicholson said.
Despite the failures, Coulter was not discouraged.
"We still have six fighters going," he said. "And we will get at least one fighter into the finals."
Middleweights Shane Swartz and Stephen Beets will meet in one semifinal.
While American boxers were faltering, the usually powerful Cubans showed their skills are not diminishing.
Their two most impressive boxers were Lemus and Savon.
Lemus needed only one punch--a straight right to the face--to knock out Dirk Dzemski of Germany. Savon took only 1:21 to stop Peer Muller, also of Germany, knocking him down with an overhand right.
The U.S. team was eliminated from medal contention, losing to Russia, 9-4. In other games, Spain and Italy played to a 1-1 tie and Spain defeated Hungary's B team, 15-7.
France scored seven of the last nine goals to upset Russia, 22-20, for the gold medal. Spain defeated South Korea for the bronze.
Kelly Thorpe of Edmond, Okla., was the only winner for the United States, taking the gold medal in the women's 121-pound class with a 2-1 decision over Kim Mi-sun of South Korea. Clayton Barber of Colorado Springs lost to South Korea's Lee Jun-hee in the men's 141-pound final.
Jack Kelly, Goodwill Games president, said that Games mile champion Noureddine Morceli was one of several athletes paid extra money for exceptional performances.
Britain's Linford Christie, sidelined by an injured left hamstring, should be ready for the European Championships, which begin Aug. 7 at Helsinki.