Warren gains second straight Olympic berth

Updated: August 25, 2007, 11:28 PM ET
Associated Press

HOUSTON -- Rau'shee Warren became the first American boxer in 31 years to qualify for consecutive Olympic teams by overpowering Qa'id Muhammad on Saturday night in the flyweight championship at the U.S. Olympic trials.

The 20-year-old Warren battered Muhammad from the opening bell and built a 23-1 lead before the referee stopped the fight 1:11 into the second round. Warren becomes the first U.S. boxer to make back-to-back Olympic squads since Davey Lee Armstrong in 1972 and '76.

In 2004, Warren was 17 and the youngest member of the U.S. team when he lost to China's Zou Chiming in Athens.

Still sweating from his victory on Saturday night, Warren was already looking ahead to the World Championships in October.

"I just completed one part of the puzzle," Warren said. "Now, I've got to complete two, the worlds. The third is that medal. All I've got to do is stay focused."

In other early bouts on Saturday night, Luis Yanez stopped Malcolm Franklin (106 pounds), Gary Russell, Jr. defeated Roberto Marroquin (119), Hylon Williams beat Raynell Williams (125) and Sadam Ali stopped Miguel Gonzalez (132).

Yanez, 18, has dominated the light flyweight class since 2006, winning the last two U.S. and Golden Gloves championships and gold at the 2007 Pan Am Games. The Duncanville, Texas, native knocked down Franklin in the second round on his way to an easy 35-11 victory.

Russell beat Marroquin 25-13, avenging a first-round loss to Marroquin on Monday that dropped him into the consolation bracket. The two will fight again on Sunday to determine who will make the Olympic team.

"This is my dream, to become an Olympian" said Russell, from Capitol Heights, Md. "Right now, he's the obstacle I have to overcome. I'm not going to be satisfied until I stop him or knock him out."

Hylon Williams, a 17-year-old student at Houston's Madison High School, also forced a rubber match on Sunday, beating Raynell Williams 20-16. Raynell, the reigning national champion, edged Hylon by one point on Thursday.

Boosted by a vocal hometown cheering section in the rematch, Hylon overcame a 14-10 deficit in the fourth and final round.

The 18-year-old Ali, from Brooklyn, beat Gonzalez 22-10. Ali won the 2005 and '06 U.S. Gold Gloves titles at 125 pounds, then moved up a weight class late last year. He lost to Jerry Belmontes at the U.S. Championships in June, then beat him in Houston on Wednesday to advance to Saturday's final.

Later Saturday night, Javier Molina beat Danny Garcia (141), Demetrius Andrade stopped Keith Thurman (152), Shawn Estrada defeated Daniel Jacobs (165), Christopher Downs stopped Yathomas Riley (178), Deontay Wilder defeated Quantis Graves (201) and Michael Hunter beat Kimdo Bethel (201-plus).

The 32-year-old Downs won 21-11 to become the oldest American Olympic boxer in history. A member of the U.S. Army's World Class Athlete Program, Downs served in Iraq from January 2004 to March 2005.

Downs is conveniently posted at Fort Carson, Colo., a short drive from the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. A Sergeant 1st Class, Downs is still on active duty, but the military will allow him to dedicate all of his time training for Beijing.

A father of two, Downs only took up boxing in 2003 and completely stopped during his tour in Iraq. He started again when he came back and he's won the last two light heavyweight national titles and captured a bronze medal at the Pan Am Games in July.

"This is another feather in the cap," he said. "When I go back to the line and tell all those young guys, 17, 18 years old, and they say, 'Come on, Sergeant Downs, get up that hill!' I'll just pull that feather out and say, 'When you make the Olympic team, then you can talk to me like that."

The 17-year-old Molina, the reigning U.S. welterweight champion, beat Garcia 26-12.

Andrade beat Thurman 21-13. The 19-year-old Andrade won the U.S. welterweight titles in 2005 and '06, but had to drop out of this year's tournament after contracting strep throat. He came back less than two months later and took the silver medal at the Pan Am Games.

Estrada and Jacobs both landed several hard rights in the final round, but Estrada had already built an insurmountable lead and won 24-14.

Wilder beat Graves 12-9 won the U.S. and Golden Gloves heavyweight championships this year. The 21-year-old Wilder works two jobs in Tuscaloosa, Ala., to support his 2-year-old daughter, Naieya, who was born with spina bifida.

The 19-year-old Hunter, who won the U.S. title in June, beat Graves 14-7. Hunter's father, Michael, was a journeyman heavyweight in the early 1990s. He was fatally shot in a confrontation with two police officers on the roof of a Los Angeles hotel in 2006.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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