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Rau’shee Warren: First 2012 US Olympian to Fight for World Title

Who do you think wins between Rau'shee Warren & Juan Carlos Payano?

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RWBy Travis “Novel” Fleming

On Sunday, August 2nd, Cincinnati’s Rau’shee Warren, 13-0, 4 KO’s, will be the first member of the 2012 team USA Olympic squad to get a shot at a world title in the professional ranks when he challenges WBA bantamweight champion Juan Carlos Payano, 16-0, 8 KO’s, in the headlining fight of the Premiere Boxing Champions card that will be broadcasted on Bounce TV live from Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida.

Rau’shee is a lightning quick fighter with a lot of talent. Similar to 2008 Olympic teammate Gary Russell, JR., 26-1, 15 KO’s, his handspeed is among the fastest in the sport. He’s got top notch technical ability, and a cerebral fighting style ingrained in him from hundreds of fights against top notch amateurs. He is good defensively, but lacks power in his punches either due to implementing an amateur style more focused on scoring points, or because he is legitimately feather fisted. As a pro, he has been moved quite slowly and hasn’t received the same amount of attention that other members of the 2012 USA Olympic squad have received. Teammates Eroll Spence Jr, 17-0, 14 KO’s, Joseph Diaz Jr, 17-0, 10 KO’s, Terrell Gausha, 15-0, 8 KO’s, and Marcus Browne, 15-0, 11 KO’s, have all received more exposure, and appeared to be on their way to title shots before Warren.

Rau’shee is the most decorated amateur of the Olympic squad with a stellar amateur career that includes representing the USA in three different Olympic games, the first being as a 17 year old at the 2004 Olympics in Athens where he was the youngest US Olympian in the entire games. In 2007, Rau’shee impressed in Chicago to become the world amateur flyweight champion. As an amateur, he squared off with some great fighters including a close loss to top pound for pound talent Guillermo Rigondeaux, 15-0, 10 KO’s. He is well known in Cincinnati as one of its most respected pugilists. He is a childhood friend of three time professional champion Adrien Broner, 30-2, 22 KO’s, and inspired Broner to become a boxer. Despite suffering two clear losses as a pro, Broner has said that his most humiliating beating since he began boxing came from the hands of the smaller Rau’shee Warren. From 2010-2012 he competed in the semi pro World Series Of Boxing, winning all seven of his semi pro bouts before turning professional in late 2012 at the age of 25. Since then, he has reeled off thirteen pro victories against zero defeats. Most of his fights have been against the typical low level of opposition that’s expected from a rookie in the paid ranks, with his last three being a slight step up in opposition against experienced journeymen. Still, nothing that should warrant a world title shot, but his powerful manager Al Haymon must feel that Warren’s vast amateur experience will see him through. Make no mistake about it, this is an enormous step up in opposition level, one that’s likely too much for someone who has yet to fight a top fifty guy in his division. I hope I’m wrong, and I’ll be cheering for him to become the first 2012 team USA member to capture a professional title.

Undefeated Dominican bantamweight champion Juan Carlos Payano has proven himself as a professional. Now at age 31, turning pro two years earlier than Warren, he has beaten several gatekeepers and is coming off of the most impressive performance of his career when he snatched the WBA bantamweight title from longtime ruler Anselmo Moreno, 35-2, 12 KO’s. Moreno isn’t quite what he once was several years ago when he was among the slickest boxers in the sport, but he was still a legitimate champion. Payano took the fight to Moreno from the opening bell with a ton of aggression and some questionable illegal blows that saw referee Luis Pabon issue several warnings. In round number two, Payano received a nasty gash over his right eye from an accidental head clash caused by his own aggression. From rounds three until round six, Payano fought like a man possessed, relentlessly attacking Moreno who’s only response was the occasional body blow to try and keep a bleeding Payano off of him. At the end of round six, ringside doctors deemed Payano’s cut too severe to continue and the fight was stopped. Because more than four rounds of action had passed, the fight went to the scorecards where Payano was awarded a clear unanimous decision over the long reigning champ Moreno. Payano was also a decorated amateur that represented the Dominican Republic at both the 2004, and 2008 Olympics and won silver medals at the 2003 and 2007 Pan Am Games.

Both men are the same height with identical reach, and both are southpaws. Payano is the much more experienced fighter with the style that appears better suited for the pro ranks. Being that Payano just fought talented southpaw Anselmo Moreno and battered him, he should have no problems with Warren’s southpaw stance. Payano is three years older at 31, but doesn’t appear to have suffered any wear and tear that would result in any disadvantages from being the older man. Payano will look to pressure Warren and break him down with a relentless attack while Warren attempts to play matador to Payano’s bull. Warren will attempt to frustrate Payano with his superior defense while firing off rapid fire combinations that won’t do much damage, but will win him favor with judges.

Will Warren’s amateur pedigree be enough to garner success in the paid ranks, or will he be another one of the many top amateur fighters whose styles didn’t translate into the rougher brand of professional boxing? Payano is a stern test for any bantamweight, let alone a green professional, so a victory over Payano would certainly give Warren the stamp of approval. A loss, as long as it’s not too one sided, could also serve as a great learning experience and give Warren an idea of what he needs to work on to reach the top level of the sport. This is definitely an intriguing match up that I’m looking forward to because it’s one of those fights where you just dont know what to expect considering the question marks surrounding Warren’s caliber as a pro

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