Saturday, February 21, 2004

Siler, Warren win finals at Olympic Team Trials

Amateur boxing

By Neil Schmidt
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Cincinnati is one step from again sending a one-two punch to the Summer Olympics.

Boxers Ron Siler Jr. and Rau'Shee Warren claimed winner's bracket titles Friday in their respective weight classes at the Team Trials in Tunica, Miss.

Both advance to the Box-Offs Feb. 27-28 in Cleveland.

Qualifying is a double-elimination format, and Siler and Warren are both undefeated.

So their opponent at the Box-Offs would have to beat them twice to prevent them from making the Olympic team.

In 2000, Cincinnati had two Olympians in Ricardo Williams Jr. and Dante Craig. Williams took silver; Craig didn't medal.

"Nobody can stand in our way," Warren said of he and Siler. "We're going to get the gold (in Athens) and bring it home to Cincinnati."

Siler, a 23-year-old ranked No. 2 at flyweight (112 pounds), stopped Cleveland's Mark Davis in the third round Friday; his lead (30-10) reached the maximum of 20 points. Davis, ranked seventh, will fight unranked Aaron Alafa of Visalia, Calif., tonight in the challenger's bracket final for the right to face Siler at the Box-Offs.

Siler is 2-0 against both fighters, including a 32-10 decision Wednesday over Alafa.

Warren, a 17-year-old Harmony Community School sophomore ranked No. 7 at light flyweight (106), stopped top-ranked Rayonta Whitfield of Augusta, Ga., Friday in the second round when he went up 25-5. Whitfield will face 10th-ranked Diego Hurtado of Sparks, Nev., tonight for the right to meet Warren at the Box-Offs.

Warren is 2-0 against Hurtado, including a 28-20 decision Wednesday.

This is shaping up as especially sweet for Siler, the Shamrock Boxing Gym product.

Ron Siler Sr. has said USA Boxing wanted his son to drop down to 106 to make room for Raul Martinez of Texas at 112, but the Silers wouldn't do it.

For two reasons: 112 is Siler Jr.'s best weight, and he wants Warren, his sometimes sparring partner from Mount Auburn Gym, to make the Olympic team with him. (Martinez was eliminated earlier this week.)

"I could make (weight at) 106, but I'd rather us both go," Siler said. "We're good friends."

Four years ago, Siler was upset in the 106 semifinals by a fighter he had never seen, then rued the fact he hadn't entered more tournaments for scouting purposes.

This time, Siler began the Trials having already faced everyone else in his class. "That was important," he said.



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