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CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea — Anthony Marcano was “optimistic” before climbing into Camp Humphreys’ boxing ring Saturday night.

Marcano, 21, of Camp Humphreys, was scheduled to fight Oscar Zamora, of Yongsan Garrison, in what was to be the fifth and final bout of the 2006 8th U.S. Army Boxing Championships.

Camp Humphreys hosted this year’s championships, which included preliminaries Thursday and Friday between peninsula boxers, said Area III sports director Lonnie Herring.

Those on Saturday night’s fight card won their preliminary bouts.

About 100 spectators attended Saturday’s “main event,” a relatively light turnout as Army boxing events go in South Korea.

Marcano — who had just six career bouts under his belt entering Saturday — figured there was a pretty good chance he could lose to Zamora, who supposedly had 155 fights to his credit.

Marcano’s fears were realized when the referee stopped the fight 17 seconds into the second round after Zamora tagged Marcano with a hard shot forcing a third standing eight count.

Under the rules, three standing eight counts means the fight must be declared over, said Kim Chi-hyon, Area III sports specialist and timekeeper at Saturday’s fight.

“It’s all about caution,” Herring said later. “It’s best to stop the fight and avoid an injury than to let the fight continue.”

Despite losing, Marcano was glad he’d been on the card.

“It’s not every day you get to fight somebody with that much experience,” he said.

And there were things to learn, like trying to exploit an opponent’s weakness after you spot it.

After the bell ended the first round, Marcano’s cornerman passed along something he’d noticed: Zamora liked to throw left-right combinations, but each right he threw was going high.

Marcano had a new game plan: the next time Zamora threw a high right, he’d try to duck under it and slam the taller fighter with a flashing left hook.

Marcano saw his chance, but he couldn’t get enough steam behind the hook.

Less experienced but enthusiastic fighters like Marcano are typical of the soldiers who sign up for Army boxing events in South Korea, said Tom Higgins, sports director with the Army’s Installation Management Agency Korea Region office in Seoul.

“Here is more a chance for them to gain experience,” he said.

Asked whether he plans to continue boxing, Marcano said “Continue. Definitely.”

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