Warren seeks his gold medal moment in Payano rematch
If Rau’shee Warren never steps through the ropes again, he’ll already have made history. From being the youngest boxer at the 2004 Olympics, he qualified again in 2008 and again in 2012, becoming the only American boxer to appear in three Summer Games.
In 2004, he could blame the luck of the draw, losing to the favored Zou Shiming in the opening round. But a wiser, more experienced Warren lost by a point in his first matches at both the 2008 and the 2012 Olympics. In those instances, it didn’t matter if the bouts were closely contested, entertaining affairs which fans would want to see again. There’d be no immediate rematch, just disappointment from an early exit.
But Warren is now a pro and, in the paid ranks, a fight can happen again if it makes sense. And as such, Warren will get the chance to right what he perceived to be wrongs in his split decision loss to WBA bantamweight titleholder Juan Carlos Payano last August. Over the past 10 months, he says he’s watched the fight about 20 times, analyzing his mistakes for when he’d get a second chance. That opportunity comes for Warren on Saturday, June 18; only this time around, he says he won’t leave his fate in someone else’s hands.
“I thought I deserved the victory in the first fight. So in this fight, I’m going in there the same way I did last time but I’m bringing more power, more smarts in the ring so I can get the knockout. I can’t leave it in the judges’ hands,” Warren, 29, tells RingTV.com.
Warren (13-1, 4 knockouts) was frank in his self-assessment from the first fight, admitting that he “could’ve made that fight easier” against the cruder Dominican brawler by using his jab and footwork instead of allowing himself to be sucked into a brawl from the opening seconds. Yet if there is a silver lining there, it’s that he showed he could go a hard 12 rounds with a world-class opponent, and he showed he had power, despite his low knockout percentage when he dropped Payano (17-0, 8 KOs) in the 12th round.
“Yes, I feel like I’ve got a lot of power. You know, the fighters that I normally get in there with, they’re always hiding behind their gloves, don’t wanna exchange with me, ’cause they know how fast I am, but, once they exchange, they feel my power. And as soon as they’re thinking about opening up, I catch them and they fall,” said Warren.
The rematch will be televised as part of a Premier Boxing Champions on NBC card and will take place at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago, Illinois, about 300 miles northwest from Warren’s hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio, where he trains alongside 2012 Olympic teammate Jamel Herring and multiple-time titlist Adrien Broner under coach Mike Stafford. Payano had a functional hometown advantage in their first fight in Florida, where the 32-year-old now resides.
Warren can’t correct the scores from past fights but he hopes he’ll make the most out of his latest shot at raising gold on the world stage.
“(Payano) is gonna open up again. I’ll catch him again and I guarantee he’s going down.”
Ryan Songalia is the sports editor of Rappler, a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) and a contributor to THE RING magazine. He can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @RyanSongalia.