BEIJING -- Two-time Olympian and flyweight World Champion Rau’shee Warren (Cincinnati, Ohio) has waited four years for the opportunity to step through the ropes at the Olympic Games and his wait ended in heartbreaking fashion on Tuesday. Warren opened the 2008 Olympic Games in a tough match-up with 2005 Flyweight World Champion Ok Sung Lee of Korea, in a rematch from the semifinals of the 2005 World Championships, in which Lee emerged victorious. The second bout duplicated the first with Lee winning a 9-8 over the reigning world champion.
The bout was close from the opening bell with Warren getting on the board first, taking a 2-0 lead. Yet Lee quickly pulled the bout to a 2-2 tie and the round ended with the two world champions deadlocked at four. The punch output slowed slightly in the second round with Warren looking for openings and landing quick combinations, but once again the round ended with the two boxers tied. Warren came out strong in the third, throwing quickly early flurries but receiving no points for his output. Each boxer scored one point in the third round and they went into the fourth round tied at 7-7. Both boxers came out in the fourth looking to grab the momentum, and it was Lee taking the first lead of the round. Yet Warren came right back to tie the bout at eight. Lee quickly regained the lead, but with the noise in the arena, Warren didn’t hear the shouts from the crowd letting him know he was trailing. The final 40 seconds ticked away and Warren dropped a heartbreaking 9-8 decision.
"I feel like I should have been up every round and every round was tied. I felt like the scoring wasn’t right because I worked so hard for this and to come this far and lose in the first round, it isn’t right. It doesn’t seem real to me,” Warren said. "I didn’t really know (the score) because there was so much going on in the crowd, everybody was yelling and screaming. I was looking at my teammates and it sounded like they were saying move and it also sounded like they were saying fight. I just thought I was up because I was scoring. When I was moving, he was coming forward.”
Olympic Head Coach Dan Campbell was shocked by the early loss of the team co-captain and heart of the U.S. team. "It’s very stunning. The thing we will keep letting the guys know is they will have to try to keep it out of the hands of the judges. Our kids are always young and these guys have been around forever,” said Olympic Head Coach Dan Campbell. "We just have to get out front and stay out front. The hardest part is to get out front from what we’ve seen in the past couple of days.”
Opening round competition of Olympic boxing will finish on Wednesday with two U.S. boxers taking the ring at the Workers Indoor Arena. Heavyweight Deontay Wilder (Tuscaloosa, Ala.) will be the first to compete, facing off with Abdelaziz Toulibini of Algeria in afternoon action. Wilder’s bout is scheduled for 4 p.m., and will be the first meeting between the two boxers. Light flyweight Luis Yanez (Duncanville, Texas) will be the final U.S. boxer to compete, challenging Jose Kelvin de la Nieve of Spain in evening competition. Yanez’s contest will take place at approximately 7:30 p.m. and will be the first match-up between Yanez and De la Nieve.
Rau’shee Warren quotes
"I didn’t know I was down, I thought I was up because when I started moving, the crowd started cheering. When I looked in the corner and the coach told me to start throwing punches, and that I was down. I scored a shot with the hook at the last second, but I didn’t get a point.”
"I went in the corner and I asked the coach what the score was and he said I lost by one point. It really upset me. I started showing bad sportsmanship, I started throwing my headgear and stuff because people don’t understand that we work just as hard as the other countries do. We are always the underdogs that have to fight harder, every time we go to a tournament.”
"It was a good fight, I felt like he was going to be one of my toughest opponents but I still thought I won.”
"It was hard, just thinking about every day, every week, the years that I’ve been working so hard for this and I came this far to lose in the first round again. It should be the right scoring and it should be fair to everybody.”
"I’m used to the style, I fight a lot of people that have that type of style.”
"I wasn’t worried, I was really confident going into the fight. I felt like a lot of my punches should have been scored.”
"I didn’t feel real. I didn’t feel like I lost in there. I was fighting hard, I was letting everything go. I was doing everything the coaches told me to do. To get this far, and to lose is upsetting for me.”
Dan Campbell quotes
"One of the things that we try to impress upon our guys is that the judges can actually change the outcome a fight. Every time Rau’shee would score, somehow this kid got points also, which changed the strategy Rau’shee had to use to stay in the fight.”
"There were two things that I saw, which were, when Rau’shee hit him, he got a point. Twice, Rau’shee threw punches and scored and he also got points.”
"I was confused about why he stopped. We were screaming to him to throw punches. He said he heard someone saying for him to move. He was looking up in the stands. I don’t know what he thought they were saying. He thought they were saying move. I know we were screaming.”
"He did what we would hope other young boxers would do. He stayed around four more years and the other thing is how hard he worked in camp. For him to lose could be disheartening for some other guys. That is our biggest fear.”
"There were a couple of let downs. There was one problem that we had that was not in our control. I don’t know what to say about this bout, I’m almost speechless. Some things you don’t ever want to say, but it was weird the way the scoring went.”
"This guy presents certain problems for Rau’shee because of his long arms and his height. He doesn’t do anything special but throw punches. Half the punches he threw, he got points for. Some of the punches Rau’shee threw, the Korean got points. Rau’shee had to become a kamikaze boxer because he has to get in there and score when he should be outside boxing this guy.”