Hurtado sets up showdown
Appeal Sports Writer
Reno’s Diego Hurtado took another step on his journey to represent the United States in the 2008 Olympic Games, in Beijing, China, scoring a 26-23 decision over fellow light flyweight Daniel Lozano, of Bowling Green, Fla., Tuesday in the second round of the U.S. Olympic Trials, in Houston, Texas.
The winner of each division in the double-elimination tournament – which concludes Sunday – will represent the U.S. in Beijing.
The 21-year-old Hurtado, a former Sparks High School student, is currently ranked No. 4 by USA Boxing and will face No. 1-ranked and 2007 Pan American champion Luis Yanez today.
Yanez, of Duncanville, Texas, derailed Jarail Singleton, of St. Lois, Mo., stopping him at 1 minute, 41 seconds of the third round. But Yanez, who took a 14-8 decision over the comebacking Hurtado June 6 in the semifinals of the U.S. Championships, in Colorado Springs. Colo., didn’t escape his bout with Singleton unscathed.
“Yanez got knocked down; Jarail dropped Yanez with a left hook,” said Hurtado’s coach, Arthur Leon. “I had my back turned and I heard this big boom and thump. I turned around and Yanez was getting up. He got up and won.”
In Lozano, Hurtado was facing a counterpuncher in the electronically scored bout. The score was tied 1-1 after the first round before Hurtado went up, 7-4, after the second. Hurtado held a 15-13 lead going into the fourth and final round.
“It was a close fight,” Leon said. “It was more technical. The first three rounds Diego was laying back. I didn’t want them (the judges) to run the score up (for Lozano). I felt Diego was up 5, 6, 7-1 after the first round. It was 1-1; you never know what the judges will do.”
“It was kind of my goal to listen to Arthur’s instinct,” Hurtado said. “I guess it went well. I couldn’t keep busy with the guy. He laid back and countered. I tried to be accurate.”
In other action in the 106-pound division, Roberto Ceron, of Doraville, Ga., won by walkover over Gabino Saenz, of Indio, Calif, and Malcolm Franklin, of Rialto, Calif., took a 27-10 victory over Keola McKee, of Wailuku, Hawaii.
Saenz, whom Hurtado beat by walkover on Monday, and McKee have been eliminated from the tournament, while Ceron and Franklin each have one loss. Hurtado and Yanez have yet to lose. The winner of their bout gets two days off.
Because of what he’s seen from the judges so far in the Olympic Trials, Leon said he has devised a plan for Hurtado to use against Yanez, a slick, counterpunching southpaw.
“They were scoring real high for Yanez – it didn’t appear to be (based) on what he’s actually doing,” Leon said of the judges. “We don’t know much about that, whether he’s just likable or what. It’s fair. We know what we’re going up against. We’ve been training for him.
“We’ve worked on a lot of different styles; most of the last two months we’ve worked for him. We’ve sharpened up enough. Diego has a few combinations down real good.”
Conventional wisdom would have Hurtado going right after Yanez, but Leon has another strategy in mind.
“We want to keep the first round (scoring) down a little bit,” Leon said. “The judges are used to pushing buttons for (Yanez). We want to get their fingers used to waiting. Yanez was also a lot fresher for Diego the first time they fought. Diego had three fights before Yanez had two. (Yanez) didn’t fight until the quarters and didn’t fight for the first two days. It’s different this time. This time Diego got a break (with the walkover). It’ll be Yanez’s third fight to Diego’s two. We’d rather have it that way here. We’ll be a little faster and it’s a more important fight.”
Hurtado, then 17, made it through the 2004 Olympic Trials and advanced to the U.S. Olympic Box-offs, where he lost to Rau’shee Warren, in Cleveland, Ohio. Warren went on to represent the U.S. in Athens, Greece.
Hurtado feels that things are falling in place for him this time out and said he feels like he’s physically stronger than the 18-year-old Yanez.
“I’ll feel good about it if he fights me the way he has been fighting,” Hurtado said. “In the U.S. Championships he was on the bike. Nowhere in the middle of the ring did we exchange punches. He just ran around the ring. And especially the way he was dropped today, it might make him run tomorrow.”
Hurtado said he hopes to get a fair shake from the judges.
“If they don’t (score fairly), I’ll pick it up and use my power,” Hurtado said. “I’ll get him up on the ropes and stay really, really busy. I won’t give him any room for the judges to think that he’s scoring.
“I’ll definitely give him something different than when we fought the first time. Whatever it takes to win.”