Amid the sticky humidity produced by a throng of busy boxers in an upper-level gym at the Olympic Training Center Monday, Rau’shee Warren bounced, bobbed and jabbed to his own beat.
Few boxers can keep up. He will showcase his speed Wednesday during his first bout at the U.S. Championships. Sometimes, the 19-year-old flyweight (112 pounds) from Cincinnati, Ohio, loses points because judg- es’ eyes can’t track his fists, nor can they press the punch button in time. “The judges aren’t going to get that first punch,” said Dan Campbell, national director of coaching. “That’s why we have him step to the right and come right back.” As the youngest member of the U.S. Olympic team at the 2004 Athens Games, Warren, then 17, lost his first bout and was out. He is the first boxer since 1992 not to turn professional after the Olympics. He since won gold at last year’s U.S. Championships and bronze at the World Championships in November. “Being that young at the Olympics, everyone was like my older brother,” Warren said, his voice a dead-ringer for that of comedian Chris Rock. “I brought the kid out in them.” U.S. amateur boxers rarely have the beef of international fighters. They turn pro before they have completely developed. And some careers fizzle, like some would-be NBA players drafted out of high school. “Every four years we have to start over,” Campbell said. “It’s good to have someone like (Warren) to tell a kid, ‘You don’t have to turn pro so early. You don’t have to face the tape, the little gloves and no head gear.” Warren believes he’ll be the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. “Out of all the amateur boxers in the world, I’d say he’s the fastest,” said Michael Evans, the No. 1-ranked U.S. amateur at 132 pounds. After his short-lived Olympic experience, the lefty remained an amateur to mature physically and possibly win Olympic gold. Being a flyweight without an Olympic medal, he wouldn’t have demanded lucrative purses. “Professionals pace themselves and wait for one big punch,” Warren said. “An amateur relies on speed. I’m not used to professional style. So I’m learning and watching.” And he continues to train, as he did Monday, beating on the target mitts on Stafford’s shifting hands. He circled and, in the time of a tap, flashed a three-punch combination. Under his red trunks from the World Championships, Warren sweated to maintain weight in full-body long underwear. Above his size-4 shoes, there were scatters of red roses on the white underwear. “He’s still a baby,” Stafford said. CONTACT THE WRITER: 636-0250 or firstname.lastname@example.org SCHEDULE 2006 U.S. Championships Monday-Saturday Monday (11 a.m. & 5 p.m. Today (11 a.m. & 5 p.m.) Wednesday (11 a.m. & 5 p.m.) Olympic Training Center Sports Center I Thursday (11 a.m.) Olympic Training Center Sports Center I Friday (6 p.m.) Olympic Training Center Sports Center I Saturday (7 p.m.) Sheraton Colorado Springs Grand Ballroom