It was another long day in what has been a long tournament for the U.S. boxing team at the Goodwill Games. Only three of its members reached Saturday's finals, joining 20 Soviets and a Venezuelan.
The three U.S. fighters who survived the semifinals were Arthur Johnson (112 pounds), Romallis Ellis (132 pounds) and Parker White (165 pounds). The rest were eliminated in a variety of ways; some were knocked out, some lost clear decisions, some lost close decisions and others lost disputed decisions.
One of the knockout victims was Lorenzo Wright of Washington, who was put down by a short right hand from Ruslan Taramov of the Soviet Union at 2:10 of the second round in their 165-pound bout.
One of the losers by clear decision was 17-year-old Michael Simon of Washington, who was defeated, 5-0, by 178-pound World Cup champion Nurmagomed Shanavazov of the Soviet Union.
Simon was unshaken by the loss. "I gave it my best shot," he said. "I've only had 14 fights and he's had over 100. I'm 17; he's how old, 27? I could have beaten him, but I wasn't quite aggressive enough. The next time will be different. I feel good about what I did here."
His mood was much brighter than that of fellow 178-pounder Harvey Richards. No one here had a stranger 48 hours than Richards.
In a quarterfinal match Tuesday, Richards floored Niels Hausgaard-Madsen for an apparent knockout. But the Soviet referee ruled that the punch Richards had thrown was a low blow. After 15 minutes of debate, he awarded the bout to Hausgaard-Madsen. The American team protested the decision.
This morning, not knowing whether he would fight tonight or not, Richards showed up for his weigh-in. He went from there to Red Square to watch the noon changing of the guard at Lenin's Tomb. He still didn't know if he was fighting. He did some shopping. Finally, at 2 p.m. he got the word: He was fighting.
The protest had been turned down, only it hadn't. One jury had ruled in Richards' favor, another one had not. Finally, Hausgaard-Madsen intervened. He told the Danish team coach that he did not want to deal with the hassle anymore and was going home.
Goodwill Games officials then decided to award Hausgaard-Madsen a bronze medal -- apparently for being such a good guy -- and allowed Richards to fight in tonight's semifinals.
Richards showed up to fight Andrei Karavaev of the Soviet Union but was knocked dizzy at one minute of the third round by a Karavaev right. The referee stopped the bout there and Richards walked off into a hallway, started trying to talk about what he had been through and broke down in tears.
"They didn't tell me until almost the last minute that it was okay to fight," he said. "I tried to get out and get around to keep my mind off of things, but it was hard. When you go through a trauma like this, it takes a lot out of you. It hurts."
At that moment, Jim Fox, the U.S. amateur boxing director, put an arm around Richards and led him away. "There's really nothing you can tell a guy when he has to wait like he did," U.S. coach Roosevelt Saunders said. "You tell him to relax, to get by himself, whatever. But if you don't know if you're fighting, it works on your mind."
Later, after he had calmed down, Richards was more analytical. "The guy caught me with a good punch. He hurt me," he said. "I was okay. I could have continued, but I guess they were protecting me. I appreciate that. But this whole trip has been tough. First, we lost nine guys because of a U.S. government order against military participation here before we even got on the plane. That's a whole team.
"Then this happened to me. I really didn't expect to fight. They had never overruled before. I still don't know what happened. I caught the guy dead in the gut and he went down. He never grabbed low until 10 minutes later. You get hit low, you grab right away. Coming out of the ring, he said to me, 'Nice shot.' That was all.
"Then I had to wait all yesterday to find out what was going to happen. That's a long time to wait when you're wondering if you won or not."
Whether Richards, 24, could have won the bout under ideal conditions is questionable. The Soviets have been overpowering. Their head-to-head record against U.S. fighters is 11-2.
"They've definitely improved the last few years," Saunders said. "Their style is better. They slip punches better now. We lost nine good men before we even got here, though. I honestly think at least three of them would have made the finals and then we would have had a shot at maybe six gold medals instead of three."
The one real highlight for the United States tonight was Ellis, who was raised in Landover, Md., but now lives outside Atlanta. He turned a close fight against Juri Savochkin clearly his way in the third round, staggering the Soviet several times on the way to a 4-1 victory.