U.S. fighters end title drought
At the finals of the World Boxing Championships in Chicago last Saturday, an irrepressible flyweight and an analytical welterweight led the U.S. out of a long slump, winning the country's first amateur world titles since 1999. The flyweight, Rau'shee Warren of Cincinnati, lost two front teeth and endured a bruised right shoulder that he said "felt like it had its own heartbeat every time I threw a punch," but he outpointed Thailand's Somjit Jongjohor 13--9 for the gold medal. Later Demetrius Andrade, from Providence, defeated another Thai, Non Boonjumnong, for the welterweight gold.
Three other U.S. fighters earned Olympic berths with top eight finishes (light flyweight Luis Yanez, 19, of Duncanville, Texas; bantamweight Gary Russell, 19, of Capitol Heights, Md.; and featherweight Raynell Williams, 18, of Cleveland), and boxers in six other classes can still earn berths in continental qualifying tournaments next year.
Warren, 20, was the youngest male U.S. Olympian at the 2004 Games, and he will be the first U.S. boxer to fight in a second Olympics since Davey Lee Armstrong in 1976. "Nothing gets in Rau'shee's way," says his mother, Paulette Gordon, who wore a T-shirt at the fights with a picture of her son in his championship belts next to the words IF YOU WANT ME, COME GET ME. When Warren objected to Georgy Balakshin's elbowing tactics during his quarterfinal bout, he picked up the Russian and tossed him onto his back.
Andrade, 19, is a cold-blooded technician by comparison. Trained by his father, Paul, he is the U.S.'s soundest defensive fighter, superbly skilled at ducking and blocking punches, then counterhooking off opponents' misses. In his four fights leading to the final, he surrendered a total of 24 points in 32 minutes. In the gold medal bout, he scored a first-round knockdown and built an 11--3 lead in his final against Boonjumnong, who retired in the second round because of an injured right arm.
Asked what he thinks about in a fight, Demetrius says, "Angles and analysis. The guy in front of me is a book. I'm trying to read him."