Saturday, February 28, 2004

Warren, Siler Olympics-bound

By John Erardi
The Cincinnati Enquirer

CLEVELAND - No young boxer could be a match for Rau'Shee Warren or Ron Siler Jr. after what they face periodically in the gym: Each other.

Light flyweight Diego Hurtado, left, from Sparks, Nev., boxes Reu'shee Warren, from Cincinnati, during the U.S. Olympic Boxoffs Friday.
(AP photo)
"You could see it in Rau'Shee's fight right before mine - he dominated the guy (Diego Hurtado, of Sparks, Nev.) because even though that guy likes to keep coming in on Rau'Shee, he didn't come in on him any harder than I did last Monday," said Siler Jr.

Warren, 17, fights at 106 pounds out of the Police Athletic League Gym in Mount Auburn. Siler, 23, fights at 112 pounds and comes out of the Shamrock Gym in Covington, where he and Warren sparred earlier this week. Both are Cincinnatians.

But as of Friday night, thanks to the 2004 U.S. Olympic Box-offs here, they are something more: U.S. Olympians.

They still have to make it through the Americas' Qualifier next month in Tijuana, Mexico, to be guaranteed bouts in Athens at the Summer Games, but that is expected to be a formality. All 12 members of the U.S. team in 2000 who won in the Box-offs made it through the Americas' Qualifier and fought at the Summer Games in Sydney.

"Ron is as strong as a bull, so the only way I can counter him is to use my speed," Warren said. "The advantage is a fight like (Friday night's) is that I've still got the speed, but the guy I'm fighting doesn't have Ron's strength."

Warren's fight was stopped in the third round because he was ahead 22-2 (a 20-point lead is automatic cessation).

Flyweight Ron Siler, left, from Cincinnati, staggers Aaron Alafa, from Visalia, Calif. during their bout Friday.
(AP photo)
Siler's bout was stopped at 1:30 of the second round, because his opponent, Aaron Alafa of Visalia, Calif., couldn't fight back after Siler hit him with powerful body shots. The blows caused Alafa to drop his hands, and Siler then landed a thundering right to his head to end it.

"I knew I had to do something special to one-up Rau'Shee," said Siler. "I had to show him something. When his bout was stopped in the third, I knew I had to stop my guy in the second."

Siler said he gets just as much from his sparring sessions with Warren as Warren said he gets from Siler.

"He's an amazing kid," Siler said. "I really was coming after him Monday - until I kept walking into right hooks. He is so quick. And he has power, too. He's something special. He's learned at a young age what it took me missing out on the Olympics in 2000 to learn: Don't take anything for granted. Train and fight like it's your last fight. That's the way we spar. We don't leave anything out there."

Siler is regarded as perhaps the team's best chance for a gold medal in Athens, because he is such a polished fighter. Plus, he's strong.

"I tried to show that tonight," Siler said. "I not only wanted to win, I wanted to look good doing it. I wanted to look like an Olympian."

After a brief respite, the two Cincinnatians will head for Colorado Springs. Colo., to train with the U.S. Olympic team.

How does that name sound: "Rau'Shee Warren, U.S. Olympian"?

"It sounds great," Warren said. "You know, I used to think that the Olympics were held every year. Then, when it went four years between them, 1996 to 2000 - I was only 13 in 2000 - I realized the time frame. People said, 'You're too young for '04. Your time will come in '08.' But what they didn't realize is I'd already been waiting four years. Soon as Ricardo Williams made the team in 2000, that's when I said: 'That's gonna be me in '04.' "

Warren, Siler Olympics-bound

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