A trio of U.S. Boxers are headed to the 2012 Olympic Games after third round victories at the World Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan on Tuesday. Among them is 24-year-old jr. bantamweight Rau’shee Warren, of Cincinatti, Ohio, who will make history as he joins Team USA for a third time.
Warren was just 17 years old, the youngest American team member in any sport, when he competed in Athens for the 2004 Games, and he returned for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing as a favorite in his weight class. After falling short of his dream to give his mother a gold medal, he decided to try for a third time.
In Baku, using superior handspeed to open an early lead, Warren took one step closer to his goal with a dominant 22-12 win over Rey Saludar of the Philippines. Having now clinched the Olympic spot, he will continue to the quarterfinal round to face Khalid Saeed Yafai of England.
Also qualifying for the team was bantamweight Joseph Diaz, Jr. of South El Monte, California, who captured a hard-fought 22-21 victory over Mexico’s Oscar Valdez.
The third Olympic berth was secured by welterweight Errol Spence of Desoto, Texas, who took on the number one seed of the tournament, Hungary’s Imre Backsai, and emerged from the fast-paced contest with a convincing 26-16 win.
The World Championships mark the first qualifying event for the 2012 Games in London. Junior flyweights through light heavyweights must place in the the top ten, while heavyweights and super heavyweights must place in the top six in order to make the team.