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Dargan stunned in title defense; Ceron hopes for rematch vs. Yanez

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Two-time 141-pound champion Karl
Dargan was stunned in his title defense at the U.S. Boxing
Championships, losing to Javier Molina Monday.

The 21-year-old Dargan, of Philadelphia, had won the title the
previous two years, but by the end of the third round he appeared
fatigued as he was slow to get off the ropes and stumbled to the
canvas a couple of times.

Molina, of Commerce, Calif., beat Dargan 31-27. The champ
appeared to be in control the first two rounds, with Dargan
countering Molina's jab or straight right with a two or three punch
count.

"I felt like something was happening," Molina said. "So I
continued to find my fight and be aggressive."

But fatigue set in and Dargan was seen stumbling over his feet
and onto the canvass as time expired.

"I wasn't in the best shape of my life," Dargan said. "I
could have prepared better."

"I take full responsibility for what happened," said Dargan's
coach Naazim Richardson. "I had an ailment that kept from being
with him and having him properly prepared."

Meanwhile, Roberto Ceron has his eyes on the championship but
he'll have to face his nemesis Luis Yanez.

Both flyweights have faced each other three times, with Yanez
coming out on top each time.

"I want to win the gold medal here," the 24-year-old Ceron
said after winning his midday preliminary bout. "But I really want
to beat someone that has beaten me three times."

Ceron and Yanez met a year ago in the finals of the National
Golden Gloves. Yanez won by a 3-2 decision.

"Most people thought I won the fight," Ceron said.

The two met again in the finals of the '06 U.S. Championships,
with similar results. Yanez won that fight by a count of 18-16.

"I was beginning to think it would always be two or three-point
difference," Ceron said.

It was Yanez winning when they met again at 2007 Pan American
box-offs, 13-9.

"He's a good boxer. I can't take anything away from him,"
Ceron said. "But I think I trained harder and did some things to
make me better prepared this time."

The most significant difference: sparring with left-handed
partners to mimic Yanez.

"There's a difference fighting southpaws because they come at
you differently," Ceron said. "I don't see a lot of southpaws
anyway and he's one of the southpaws that I've fought."

The two wouldn't square up again until the finals on Saturday.
Each would have to win two bouts to set up a fourth match between
them.

Ceron survived a challenging fight to win his preliminary bout
with Terail Singleton of St. Louis. Ceron and Singleton finished
with an 18-18 computer score and a 41-41 raw score. The bout was
went down to paper scoring that gave Ceron a 3-2 decision.

The top eight finishers in each of the 11 weight classes will
qualify for the Olympic Trials. This tournament serves as the sole
direct qualifier for those trials, to be contested in August, with
dates and location to be determined.

In a mild surprise, Jonte Willis of Tacoma, Wash. was beaten by
Kimdo Bethel of Albany, New York in a tiebreaker, 13-13, 27-25, in
a super heavyweight bout.