Wilson loses rematch at Olympic Trials

HOUSTON — Mike Wilson fell just one point shy of keeping his Olympic hopes alive on Friday, falling 18-17 to Kimdo Bethel of Albany, N.Y. after coming back from a seven-point deficit in the challengers bracket finals of the U.S. Olympic Team Trials.

"I left it all in the ring. I can live with that," the 24-year-old Central Point super heavyweight said. "It's not like I didn't try my hardest."

If Wilson had won, he would have had a rematch with Las Vegas 17-year-old Michael Hunter, who beat Wilson by one point for the national title at the U.S. Championships and is the favorite to make the Olympic Team.

Hunter dusted Bethel by 10 points on Tuesday.

"They've got their boys who they want on the team," Wilson said. "I was hoping to get Mike Hunter. I know he was happier Kimdo won."

Wilson was the clear aggressor throughout the match; Bethel got most of his points countering with his right.

"He's a sucker for my right hook," Bethel said.

Granted, lots of Bethel's counterpunches landed — solidly — but Wilson spent much of the time leading Bethel around the ring. The only round in which Bethel was the clear winner was the first, in which Wilson tried to bait Bethel with the right and clobber with a left that did not connect.

"I was engaging," Wilson said. "I controlled the fight. "¦ Maybe I should've beat Bethel that first time, then I wouldn't be in this predicament."

Bethel took a 5-0 lead in the first round, which was not Wilson's idea of a good way to start. But the 10-3 score after the second was perplexing to Wilson, who led Bethel around the ring with two-punch combos.

This week, no boxer has had to fight from behind as much as Wilson, and in the third, he went to work again. Wilson tired out the husky Bethel with body shots and moved Bethel around the ropes, climbing back into the match by trimming Bethel's lead to 14-10.

"Get busy Dad!" yelled Hunter, Wilson's six-year-old son, and Wilson did, never throwing just one punch throughout the final round. Bethel had his running shoes and Wilson was scoring, but Bethel stuck with the counter and landed a few in the final seconds that put him over.

Wilson hasn't decided what's next. The promoters started arriving two days ago and are eager to sign new talent. Wilson isn't going to sign just any contract; it's got to be the right deal for Wilson to turn pro. At 28, he would be far too old (by Olympic standards) for the 2012 Games.

His determination surely turned the heads of a few well-heeled promoters, but Wilson said that if the opportunity arose to help the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team as a sparring partner, he would take it. Or, if Hunter beats Bethel and Bethel turns pro, to get on as an alternate, as he did in 2004. Still, the position he was really looking for is going to be filled by someone else.

Sometimes your dream is just out of reach.

"That's boxing. You win some, you lose some," Wilson said. "It's a hard pill to swallow, to lose by one point. One point again."

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