McPherson, Berto won't get another shot

Updated: February 27, 2004, 2:56 AM ET
Associated Press

CLEVELAND -- Welterweight boxers Juan McPherson and Andre Berto failed in their attempts to get another shot at a spot on the U.S. Olympic team.

After a hearing that stretched 12 hours into Friday morning, an arbitrator declined to reverse USA Boxing's earlier ruling to disqualify both after their fight in Tunica, Miss., last week.

McPherson got a medical disqualification when he injured his neck while being thrown to the canvas by Berto, who also was tossed from the competition for his actions on Feb. 17.

The Olympic box-offs will be held at the Cleveland State Convocation Center on Friday and Saturday, with one fighter in each of the 11 weight classes moving one step closer to the chance to represent the U.S. in Athens.

While just two finalists remain in 10 of the classes, four welterweights will compete in the division left wide open by the disqualification of the two probable favorites.

The U.S. Olympic Committee issued a press release Friday morning listing the four-man field: Cory Jones of New York; Vanes Martirosyan of Glendale, Calif.; Austin Trout of Las Cruces, N.M.; and Edward Joseph of Fort Carson, Colo.

Spokesman Kevin Neuendorf didn't immediately return a call seeking comment.

McPherson, a 19-year-old Cleveland native, was considered the favorite for the welterweight spot. He was carried off the canvas last week on a stretcher after Berto, from Winter Haven, Fla., threw him out of a clinch during last week's trials.

McPherson was disqualified by USA Boxing physicians who feared further injuries. Berto was disqualified, then reinstated, then disqualified again, prompting both boxers to join forces in an attempt to appeal the decisions.

McPherson got a temporary restraining order from a Cuyahoga County judge on Wednesday. The boxers and their lawyers appeared before the American Arbitration Association in Cleveland on Thursday.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press