Originally created 01/15/04

Jefferson advances as bantamweight



COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Rashiem Jefferson won his preliminary bout Wednesday at the U.S. Amateur Boxing Championships, a victory that came a year after he was shot twice in a street confrontation.

Jefferson beat Joseph Santistevan in a bantamweight fight and advanced to the quarterfinals Thursday.

Jefferson, 22, was set to compete in the event last year. But two days before leaving for Colorado last March, he was shot in the left arm and left lung.

The shooting occurred after a man became upset that Jefferson attracted police to a Philadelphia neighborhood by riding a dirt bike in the streets, which is illegal in the city.

"My dreams just blew right up," Jefferson said. "It took me a long time to be able to breathe right again."

After a seven-month recovery, Jefferson stepped back into the ring at the Police Athletic League national championships in September.

Three-time amateur champion flyweight Roberto Benitez, of New York City, also advanced when his bantamweight bout against Ricky Alexander was stopped in the second round.

Bantamweight Rafael Valenzuela, of Phoenix, a 2003 silver medalist, beat Jeremy Perez. The fight was halted in the first round.

In other bouts, defending lightweight champion Vicente Escobedo, of Woodland, Calif., beat the Air Force's Hector Ramos, 12-1. Marine Corps light heavyweight Jacob Garretson, a 2002 bronze medalist, beat 2003 silver medalist Rommel Rene 13-7.

Welterweight Austin Trout, of Las Cruces, N.M., won the closest contest of the afternoon session. His bout with the Army's Joseph Edward finished at 18-18, and Trout won 85-84 on total punches thrown.