Frustrating loss for Hurtado at the Olympic Trials
Appeal Sports Writer
Reno light flyweight Diego Hurtado successfully executed his game plan, had what his coach Arthur Leon called his best fight in four months and still came out on the wrong end of a 26-6 decision to No. 1-ranked Luis Yanez in the winners bracket of the U.S. Olympic Trials Wednesday, in Houston, Texas.
Yanez, of Duncanville, Texas, now gets two days off, while Hurtado will take off today before facing the winner of today’s Roberto Ceron-Malcom Franklin challengers bracket fight on Friday.
Ceron, of Doraville, Ga., advanced with an 18-15 decision over Jerail Singleton, of St. Louis, Mo., while Franklin, of Rialto, Calif., stayed alive with a 23-20 decision over Daniel Lozano, of Bowling Green, Fla.
The winner in each of the 11 weight classes competing in the double-elimination format of the U.S. Olympic Trials will represent the United States in the 2008 Olympic Games, in Beijing, China.
Leon sounded mystified and incredulous when he spoke of what he regarded as a scoring discrepancy by the judges, who used the electronic-scoring system.
“Diego got hit half of what he did in (Tuesday’s 26-23 win over Lozano),” Leon said. “When he got hit (against Lozano), he really got hit. Today he appeared to catch the punches on his gloves. It’s really frustrating.”
Hurtado, who implemented Leon’s plan of laying back in order to deny the combinations of the counterpunching and slick southpaw style of Yanez, trailed 3-0 at the end of the first round, 9-2 after two and 15-4 after the third, and was unable to impress the judges with his attack, while Yanez apparently had no such problem.
The 17-year-old Yanez, the 2007 Pan American champion, defeated the 21-year-old Hurtado, a former Sparks High School student, 14-8 in their first meeting in the semifinals of the U.S. Championships, in Colorado Springs, Colo., on June 6.
“(Yanez) has the magic whatever. He has something the judges want,” Leon said. “Diego was almost twice as good on defense – he tightened up. It was a way better fight (than the first one). He didn’t get hit nearly half as much. It was a good fight, but the results were frustrating. You can’t do much. Diego fought his best fight in the last four months, but it doesn’t look like it on the scorecards.”
Hurtado fought his way through the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials and lost to Rau’Shee Warren in the Olympic Box-offs, in Cleveland, Ohio. Warren went on to represent the U.S. in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.
“Yanez and Rau’Shee have the same kind of style,” Leon said. “If you chase them down, they’ll score a lot of points with their combinations. The first round was where we wanted it. We didn’t want it 12-0.
“It’s just frustrating the way the punches are scored. Diego hit him, backed him up and staggered him, and he didn’t get anything (in the way of points). Yanez hits gloves and he scores. You can score good and beat somebody, but it seems like they don’t want to score for him (Hurtado).”
Should Hurtado get past Ceron or Franklin, he will have to beat Yanez twice – once each on Saturday and Sunday – in order to win the Olympic Trials. Leon said Hurtado must knock out Yanez for that to happen.
“There’s no way around it,” Leon said of Hurtado’s necessity for a pair of knockouts. “He (Yanez) is the Chosen One. You’re not going to get a decision. But we were expecting that. We still have a few days to put something together. I can’t get upset about this for a few weeks until after I get home.”
Leon said both Ceron and Franklin are right-handers, which will benefit Hurtado, who Leon admitted has had some trouble adjusting to Yanez’s left-handed style.
“Franklin’s doing very good,” Leon said. “He gave Yanez a good fight (a 27-12 loss on Monday). I feel Franklin would be the tougher fight. He’s really athletic. Ceron’s kind of waking up. He looked sharp to me today. If I had to pick, I’d go with Ceron. Everyone’s going with Franklin. We’ll have to see whoever it will be. We’re not too concerned.”
Leon said he had a talk with Hurtado after the fight with Yanez.
“I told him, ‘Now you have to jump on him,'” Leon said. “When Saturday comes, it will be one of the last days of your amateur career. Diego has the key in him there somewhere. We have to do something special. I hope he can do it.”
Leon said several professional boxing bigwigs have approached him about Hurtado during the Olympic Trials.
“Eric Gomez, of Golden Boy Promotions (owned by Oscar De La Hoya) has been passing us cards,” Leon said. “I’ve spoken with Shelly Finkel (former manager of Mike Tyson and many other world champions). That’s not what we want. We want Yanez. We want to take care of that.”
And, so far, that has proven to be a lot easier said than done.