Rau’shee Warren Makes History in Baku as Three U.S. Boxers Qualify for the 2012 Olympic Games The stakes were high for Team USA on Tuesday at the 2011 World Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan as five U.S. boxers competed for a berth in the 2012 Olympic Games.
Photo Courtesy: punch.ocregister.com - Two-time Olympian and 2007 World Champion Rau’shee Warren marked his place in the history books as the first U.S. boxer ever to qualify for three Olympic Games.
The stakes were high for Team USA on Tuesday at the 2011 World Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan as five U.S. boxers competed for a berth in the 2012 Olympic Games. A trio of American pugilists accomplished their goal with third round victories, and two-time Olympian and 2007 World Champion Rau’shee Warren (Cincinnati, Ohio) marked his place in the history books as the first U.S. boxer ever to qualify for three Olympic Games. Bantamweight Joseph Diaz, Jr. (S. El Monte, Calif.) and welterweight Errol Spence (Desoto, Texas) both enjoyed impressive wins on Tuesday as well to punch their tickets for London.
Warren was clearly on a mission in his third round contest with Rey Saludar of the Philippines. The 24-year-old American started the bout on fire, peppering the unprepared Saludar with lightning quick combinations in the opening round. His efforts earned Warren a 7-2 lead after the first round. Saludar attempted to adjust to Warren’s tremendous hand speed in the second but had no answers as Warren moved out to 16-8 lead with one round remaining. He continued to add to his lead over the final three minutes to win a 22-12 final decision and clinch a berth in a historic third Olympic Games.
Warren was the youngest U.S. male athlete in any sport in the 2004 Olympic Games at only 17-years-old. He then entered the Beijing Olympics as the favorite in his weight class following a gold medal at the 2007 World Championships, which served as the first international qualifier for the 2008 Olympics. Yet, he was unable to fulfill his dream of putting a gold medal around his mother, Paulette’s neck in both Athens and Beijing, so he made the rare decision to come back for a third attempt at his lifelong goal. Warren will continue his run toward a second world title in a quarterfinal contest with England’s Khalid Saeed Yafai on Wednesday evening.
Diaz competed in one of the best bouts of the day in his third round match-up with 2008 Olympian and 2009 World Championships bronze medalist Oscar Valdez of Mexico. The two boxers were throwing punches in bunches from bell-to-bell as they battled it out for a berth in the 2012 Olympic Games. Diaz got the better of the exchanges and held a 6-4 lead after the first round. The high pace continued in the second, but Valdez couldn’t dent Diaz’s advantage and the American took a 15-13 lead into the final round of action. Despite Valdez’s best efforts, Diaz held on to a one-point lead over the last three minutes to win a 22-21 final decision and clinch his Olympic berth. He will compete for a spot in the semifinal round on Wednesday in a bout with Cuban Lazaro Alvarez Estrada.
Spence won the final U.S. Olympic spot of the day in his