From USA Boxing Press Release
(HOUSTON,TX, August 25, 2007) Ten U.S. Olympians were crowned on Saturday night at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Boxing at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas. Two bouts will be contested on Sunday at 2 p.m. in the bantamweight and featherweight divisions to determine the remaining two spots.
Light flyweight Luis Yanez (Duncanville, Texas) met Malcolm Franklin (Rialto, Calif.) for the second time this tournament. Yanez, 2007 Pan American Games gold medalist, got off to an early start, and was up 9-2 at the end of the first. Yanez did not let up in the second building a commanding 20-4 lead. Franklin received two eight counts in that round and Yanez scored 11 points. Up by 19 at the end of the third, Yanez went on to win a spot on the 2008 Olympic Team by a score of 35-11. “It took a lot of hard work and dedication, the 11 years really paid off. Its one of the best memories of my life, especially because my family and friends are here,” Yanez said. “In the second round, he was hurt, I was trying to stop him but also protect myself and my lead.”
Rau’shee Warren (Cincinnati, Ohio) faced Qa’id Muhammad (Atlantic City, N.J.) in the flyweight division with an Olympic berth on the line. Warren took a commanding lead in the first round and was up 15-1 going into the second. Warren made quick work of Muhammad, building a 20-point advantage to stop Muhammad at the 1:11 mark of the the second round. With this victory, Warren is now a member of the U.S. Olympic Team. An Olympian in the 2004 Summer Games, Warren is the first boxer in 30 years to compete in two Olympic Games. “This is the sport I love, Qa’id is a good kid, I never look down on anybody, anything can happen in the ring,” Warren said. “I’m going to get that gold medal and put it around my mom’s neck.”
Bantamweights Roberto Marroquin (Dallas, Texas) and Gary Russell, Jr. (Capitol Heights, Md.) competed in a bantamweight rematch of the first day of the tournament. In that bout, Marroquin was victorious. However, Russell came out looking for revenge and wasted no time, dropping Marroquin to the canvas with a hook. At the end of the round, Russell was up 9-2. Each boxer scored four points in the second round, making the score 13-6 in favor of Russell. Russell maintained his seven point lead going into the fourth round and went on to defeat Molina 25-13. As a result, Molina and Russell will face off again tomorrow. Sunday’s bout will determine who makes the Olympic Team. “All my hard work paid off, I knew it wouldn’t be easy,” Russell said. I have to stay focused and humble. I never had a dream to become a professional or world champion, I had a dream to become an Olympian.”
It was a battle between the Williams in the featherweight division when Raynell Williams (Cleveland, Ohio) and hometown boxer Hylon Williams (Houston, Texas) faced each other in the hopes of keeping their Olympic dreams alive. R. Williams came out strong, scoring six points in the first to H. Williams’ two. R. Williams preserved his lead in the second round, but H. Williams began to chip away. Down four going into the fourth, H. Williams would not go down easily. In a remarkable comeback, H. Williams defeated R. Williams, 20-16. The two will box each other again tomorrow to determine who earns a spot on the Olympic Team. “I just put pressure on him and boxed smart, this time I was down going into the fourth,” Williams said. “I had to rally to go back and get the W. It would be a dream come true if I was to win tomorrow.”
Sadam Ali (Brooklyn, N.Y.) and Miguel Gonzalez (Celveland, Ohio) were paired in the lightweight bout of the night. It was a close second round with Ali earning a slight 4-3 edge over Gonzalez. The two were separated by only one again in the second round with Ali having an 8-4 lead. However, Ali pulled away in the third, scoring 10 points and holding Gonzalez to only two. Ali went on to defeat Gonzalez 22-10 and earn a spot on the Olympic Team. “I had a hard bracket from the start, I did what I had to do to win, this is what I worked hard for. This is what counted,” Ali said. “It felt good seeing the score after the third round, I can adapt to any style. I do whatever I have to do to win.”
Light welterweights Javier Molina (Commerce, Calif.) and Danny Garcia (Philadelphia, Pa.) battled it out in the ring tonight. Molina started off strong and jumped out to a 9-1 lead after the first. Molina preserved his lead in the second, landing some big punches, making the score 15-4. Although Garcia scored five points in the third, it was overshadowed by the eight points Molina earned. He went on to defeat Garcia 26-12 and was named an Olympian. “I came out big in the last three rounds. In the final round, I just tried to maintain my lead,” Molina said. “I kept on moving to stay up, he’s a strong kid so I didn’t want to box him. Ever since I started boxing, I waited for this moment.”
Winners’ bracket champion Demetrius Andrade (Providence, R.I.) and challengers’ bracket champion Keith Thurman (St. Petersburg, Fla.) competed in the welterweight division. Both boxers got off to a slow start, with Andrade, a member of the 2007 U.S. Pan American Team, earning a slim 1-0 lead. Andrade increased his lead to four by the end of the second and five by the end of the third. Andrade left nothing to chance, with the fourth round being his best. He went on to defeat Thurman 21-13 and also earned a spot on the Olympic Team. “We have boxed so many times, it comes down to who’s smarter,” Andrade said. “I’ve been boxing since I was six and I found out about the Olympics when I was eight and I just wanted to get there. It takes focus, discipline, and the will to win.”
Middleweights Shawn Estrada (Downey, Calif.) and Daniel Jacobs (Brooklyn, N.Y.) battled it out for a spot on the Olympic Team. Estrada held Jacobs scoreless in the first and held a 6-0 lead. Allowing only one point against, Estrada increased his lead to 9-1 at the end of the second and led 15-6 going into the fourth. Estrada went on to win 24-14 and will box in the 2008 Olympics. “I tried to focus myself on getting the win. I had the will, courage and desire to win,” Estrada. “I had a hard bracket but I took it day-by-day.”
Christopher Downs (Fort Carson, Colo.) faced Yathomas Riley (San Diego, Calif.) in the light heavyweight division. Up 5-1 going into the second round, Downs connected on his punches in the second and led 12-2 by the end of round two. Although he scored only three points in the third round, Downs maintained his lead, and had an 11 point cushion going into the final round. Downs went on to defeat Riley 21-11 and earn a spot on the 2008 Olympic Team. “It’s always a good win for the oldest guy in USA Boxing. I feel like I need to thank all my teammates for pushing me,” Downs said. “It was extremely tough bracket and all eight competitors earned their way here. It’s good to see that we (the Army team) can ambassadors inside and outside the ring.”
Heavyweights Deontay Wilder (Tuscaloosa, Ala.) and Quantis Graves (Cut Off, La.) met for the second time this competition. After becoming acclimated to each other, Wilder took a 2-0 lead at the end of the first. Wilder held Graves scoreless in the second as well and increased his lead to six. Graves was able to score six points in the third, but it was not enough to take the lead. Wilder won the bout by a score of 12-9 and to earn a spot on the 2008 Olympic Team. “It’s a very overwhelming feeling, I dedicate it all to my little girl. My plan was to go out there and have fun, I knew I was stronger.”
Wilder made the team in only his 21st bout, and reflected on his progress. “This Deontay would have stopped last year’s Deontay,” Wilder said.
Super heavyweights Michael Hunter (Las Vegas, Nev.) and Kimdo Bethel (Albany, N.Y.) met in the final bout of the evening. Hunter was up by two by the end of the first and held Bethel to one point in the second. He maintained his lead and was winning 10-6 going into the final round. Hunter defeated Bethel 14-7 and was named an Olympian. “I’m still not believing its true, I learned dedication from my father. I work hard, I have two of the best trainers,” Hunter said. “I work on my conditioning and my physical strength, which helped me in this bout.
The two bouts will begin at 2 p.m. on Sunday with the winner earning the title of U.S. Olympian.