Friday, February 11
Updated: February 12, 4:19 PM ET
Vinson wins 119-pound title

Associated Press

TAMPA, Fla. -- When he's tired of training or he's feeling down, Clarence Vinson looks at the obituaries he carries with him.

"My brother was killed in 1993 in a robbery, and my little cousin was killed in a robbery in 1997," said the 21-year-old native of Washington, D.C. "Looking at them (the obituaries) picks me up a little bit because I know they're behind me 110 percent.

They would have been proud of the Northern Michigan University student Friday night when he won the 119-pound title by outpointing 17-year-old Aaron Garcia 12-4 in the U.S. Olympic Boxing Trials at the Tampa Convention Center.

Vinson, a three-time U.S. champion, had just too much experience for the National Golden Gloves champion from Vista, Calif. Landing right-hand counters and a couple of sharp left hooks, Vinson built a 7-3 lead after three 2-minute rounds, then increased the lead over the tiring Garcia.

"It's just another step," said Vinson, who was pleased but hardly jubilant. "There's a lot guys who want your spot in the Olympics."

For Vinson and other champions crowned in six bouts Friday night and in another six Saturday, they must win at the box-offs Feb. 24-26 at Foxwoods Casino in Mashantucket, Conn., and then qualify in one of three Americas qualifying tournaments to gain a trip to Sydney and the Olympics.

Joining Vinson in the finals was 20-year-old Larry Mosley, who gets inspiration from his first cousin, Shane Mosley, a former pro lightweight champion now campaigning as a welterweight who is considered one of the best pound-for-pound boxers in the world.

"I try to learn from him at look at his traits and use the jab like he does," said Mosley, a two-time U.S. champion, said after winning the 147-pound title on 15-5 decision over 21-year-old Dante Craig, the National Golden Gloves Champion from Cincinnati.

"The jab helped me tonight," said Mosley, of Los Angeles. "I didn't expect me to come at me like he did, so I used my jab."

Marshall Martinez, the 18-year-old National Golden Gloves and Police Athletic League champion from Fontana, Calif., had no trouble with 23-year-old David Jackson of Seattle, winning 23-7 at 132 pounds.

At 156 pounds, 21-year-old Jermain Taylor, a two-time National Golden Gloves Champion from Little Rock, Ark., forced 20-year-old Sergio Mora of Los Angeles to take a standing 8-count in the fourth round and won 12-3.

Olanda Anderson, a 27-year-old soldier based in Fort Collins, won the 178-pound title on an 8-2 verdict over 19-year-old Felix Cora of Galveston, Texas. The super heavyweight championship was won on a 4-0 verdict by 25-year-old Calvin Brock of Charlotte, N.C., over 24-year-old T.J. Wilson of Tulsa, Okla.

The trials are a double elimination tournament, Once a boxer loses he goes into the challengers bracket. If he wins through in this bracket, he will meet the trials champion in the box-offs at Foxwoods Casino. There will be 12 challengers bracket bouts Saturday night and another 12 Sunday. The Sunday bouts will involve the runner-up fighters in the championship bracket.

Winners in the box-offs then can qualify for the Olympics at Americas qualifying tournaments in Tampa, Mexico City and Buenos Aires. The competition in Tampa will be held March 27-April 1.

The International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA) has ruled that only 54 boxers from the Americas (North, South and Central America and the Caribbean) can compete in the Olympics. Cuba, as the No. 1 team in the world, does not need to qualify boxers and is assured of having a full 12-member team in the Olympics in September.

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