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Ward Recovers U.S. Boxing Pride

Wednesday, August 25, 2004; Page D12

Just when all seemed lost, Andre Ward remembered what his late father said about big fights and bigger fighters.

"My father always told me that in big fights you have to rise to the occasion," Ward said. "That's what great fighters do."


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Ward did just that, saving the U.S. boxing team from its most embarrassing Olympics ever by upsetting two-time world champion Yevgeny Makarenko of Russia in a light heavyweight bout.

Ward was smaller, less experienced and entered the ring to resounding boos. By the time he left, he had guaranteed himself at least a bronze medal -- and quite possibly made himself a favorite for the gold.

"Hopefully, we can bring some pride back to the USA," Ward said.

Ward pictured the fight as a modern day version of David vs. Goliath, then went out and played David to perfection by moving and punching, staying inside and frustrating the 6-foot-6 Russian. By the time the final seconds ticked away, he had a 23-16 decision that put him in a semifinal fight Friday against Utkirbek Haydarov of Uzbekistan.

"This victory is already behind me. I don't have time to relish it," said Ward, whose father died two years ago. "I've still got two tough fights left."

Ward and middleweight Andre Dirrell are the only two Americans left in the boxing competition; Dirrell fights today against Cuba's Yordanis Despaigne.


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