By Robert H. Kelly
(HOUSTON, TX, August 24, 2007) The challenger round of the 2007 U.S. Olympic Team Boxing Trials saw three Texans fighting to keep their Olympic dream alive and eventually get their ticket punched to Beijing for the Olympic Games in 2008..
In order to keep their dreams alive, their matches tonight were a must win in order to face the undefeated boxer in their weight class Saturday night
First up for the Texas was featherweight (125-pound class) Hylon Williams, Jr. of Houston. Williams fought Shmeuel Pagan (Brooklyn, NY) in a bout that was closer than the score indicated. He defeated Pagan 49-20 in the match that saw Pagan take a standing eight count just seconds before the bout was over.
Both boxers seemed to take the first round to feel each other out, with Williams eventually emerging as the aggressor. His combinations of jabs and uppercuts kept Pagan off balance and it seemed the Brooklyn native was destined to go down early.
Pagan showed somewhat of a comeback in third round as he landed punch after punch. Once or twice in the round, Williams seemed to be backing up to get away from him.
The second Texans’ match of the evening saw 2006 Under 19 World Champion Jerry Belmontes (Corpus Christi, Texas) facing off against Miguel Gonzalez (Cleveland, Ohio) in a lightweight (132-pound) match. Gonzalez, who competed in the 2004 Olympic Trials, defeated Belmontes on a 21-12 decision.
In the third and final match for the boxers from the Lone Star State was a bout of welterweights as Dallas’ Charles Hatley faced off against 2006 National PAL Champion Keith Thurman (St. Petersburg, Florida).. The match seemed to be going the way of Hatley, when in the third round, his combination of punches and jabs stunned Thurman resulting in a standing eight count.
The fans, VIPs, and media were aghast when the announcer declared the decision 23-14 in favor of Thurman. Hatley’s corner men raised their hands in disgust, showing their obvious displeasure with the decision.
Williams will face Raynell Williams (Cleveland, Ohio) on Saturday for the second time in the trials. He lost to the Ohio native 17-16 in the winners’ bracket on Thursday evening.
He will join light flyweight (106-pound) Luis Yanez and bantamweight Roberto Marroquin in the finals. Yanez, who is a two-time U.S. champion and Marroquin, who was a member of the 2007 Pan American team are undefeated at the trials.
The first bout of the finals is set at 7:00 PM Saturday at Houston’s George R. Brown Convention Center.