Fry so nearly pays price for complacency

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The Independent Online

Last year at the Olympics in Sydney, Courtney Fry fought a novice, was beaten in his first contest and yesterday there was a terrible familiarity about his performance in his opening light-heavyweight contest here at the World Amateur Championships.

Fry was trailing by 24 points to 21 after three rounds against South Africa's brave but crude Daniel Venter and both looked equally tired as the bell sounded for the fourth round and the most important session of Fry's career.

"I knew I had no chance of boxing him because he was just too strong and awkward," Fry admitted. "I remember underestimating the guy at the Olympics and said I would never do it again but I did." In the last round Fry connected with three quick rights to even the score and then a left hook to go one point in front, Venter suddenly looking in distress as Fry repeatedly backed him up. When it was over Fry was given the verdict 29-26 and a place in today's quarter-finals against Romania's Claudio Rasco.

"After the Olympics I had to sit down and think hard about what I wanted out of boxing and I nearly ruined it all in there because I was looking too far forward," Fry added.

Michael Kelly was able to take advantage of a claim by the International Amateur Boxing Association that it has instructed all judges at the Championships to score body punches, which in the past have been neglected. Kelly met England's Danny Happe at light welterweight and in all three rounds Kelly's score jumped up dramatically whenever he threw a punch below Happe's chin. At one point even the Irish officials at ringside exchanged mystified looks. When it was over Kelly was the winner with a score of 29-18, which was generous.

There was an unexpected but welcome second win for the Scottish welterweight Colin McNeil against Brazil's Archak Meliksetian. The Scot stopped England's Tony Cesay two days ago. The three other members of Scotland's team were easily eliminated but McNeil has improved since Sunday and meets Uzbekistan's Sherzod Husanov in today's quarter-final.

Loring Baker, the AIBA secretary, announced yesterday that the inaugural Women's World Championship will take place in Scranton, not far from Philadelphia, in November with the second and third tournaments in 2002 and 2004. The announcement that there will be three in rapid succession increases the chance of women's boxing being included as an exhibition sport at the Olympics in Athens in 2004. "There are now 22 countries in Europe with women's boxing and we have just been told that women are boxing in Korea," said Gilda Antzel, the secretary of the AIBA's Women's Boxing Commission, who also happens to be from Athens.

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