(PORT OF SPAIN, TRINIDAD)-The victory didn't come easy, but heavyweight Deontay Wilder (Tuscaloosa, Ala.) pulled out a win in his opening bout at the Americas Olympic Qualifier at the Jean Pierre Sports Complex in Port of Spain, Trinidad. Wilder recorded a 6-5 win over Harol Caicedo of Colombia in the first bout for his United States team. Coming off a bad flu, Wilder returned to training only upon arriving in Trinidad, and he felt the effects of his illness in the ring. Wilder was clearly the more active boxer in the slow-paced affair, but wasn't able to find the mark early on and trailed by a 1-0 margin after the first. The second round told a similar tale, and Caicedo held a 2-0 lead at the midway mark in the contest. Wilder began to pick up the pace in the third round, but couldn't dent Caicedo lead and trailed by a 4-1 deficit as the fourth round began. Caicedo extended his advantage to four, midway through the fourth round, but Wilder came flying back. He began to let his hands go, connecting and chipping away at the Colombian's lead. Once he found the mark, Wilder wore Caicedo down with his late flurry. He scored five unanswered points in the final minute of the bout to claim his one and only lead in the contest. The 22-year-old took the 6-5 lead in the final 15 seconds of the bout and held on to his advantage as the final seconds ticked off and he was named the victor in the contest. USA Boxing National Director of Coaching Dan Campbell believed that Wilder's recent illness caused his slow start."He was a little bit sick going into the match, he had been coughing in the dressing room so we were a little bit concerned about how his breathing would be through the first two rounds,"Campbell said."We knew that it would kick in because he's in such great shape. Sure enough the first two rounds were tough for him, he couldn't get off. I wanted him to pick it up in the third round. He couldn't, but he did pick it up in the fourth round and pulled it out."Wilder credits his strong conditioning for his ability to pull the victory out despite his not being 100%."I felt pretty good, conditioning wise. I didn't get tired, but I was coming back from the flu. I've been out for four or five days just resting up and trying to get my health back,"Wilder said."I haven't done any sparring or anything and when I got here to Trinidad, that's when I started full workouts. Overall, I felt pretty good, but a little stiff. I pulled it out in the end, I know in the fourth quarter when it really counts, I brought the dog out."Despite the victory, Wilder felt he wasn't at his best."I felt very sluggish, very slow. My power was still there, but it was just a matter of me bringing it out at the right point in time,"he said."I felt like I was kind of in slow motion. It was just knocking the rust off, but for the next bout, I should pick it up as I go on."Wilder will face Ecuador's Jorge Washington Tenorio Quinonez in quarterfinal action on Saturday, March 15. Light heavyweight Christopher Downs (Fort Carson, Colo.) will be the next U.S. boxer to take the ring, facing Ecuador's Julio Cesar Castillo Torres in preliminary round action in Thursday's afternoon session. Light welterweight Javier Molina (Commerce, Calif.) will face off with Brazil's Myke Carvalho in preliminary competition in Thursday's evening action. United States Results
201 lbs/91 kg: Deontay Wilder, Tuscaloosa, Ala./USA dec. Harol Caicedo, COL, 6-5 Deontay Wilder Quotes"It was hot in the facility, but once you got in the ring it felt room temperature or normal. Being that I'm from the South, I'm used to the heat. Everything was good.""It was just a matter of letting the dog loose when it really counts. I knew I was down three and I couldn't believe it. There really wasn't much going on, I don't know where he got his points from me. When the coaches notified me that I was down three, that's when it clicked in my head that its show time. So I just let loose and stayed on him like white on rice. He just got tired. He looked tired, and I knew that I had him. I started letting my right hand loose, they weren't really counting anything I threw except for the right hand. Once I started putting pressure on him and letting my right hand go, everything changed.""I was thinking back to Chicago (2007 World Championships) when I was the first to be eliminated from the tournament, and I remembered how I felt. I didn't want to feel that again. By my being the first person to be eliminated in Chicago and the first to win this time, it was kind of exciting. It's always good to start something off for the USA and my teammates and give them a little confidence. I always want to motivate somebody. Hopefully we will continue winning all the way through and we'll come out qualifying all the guys and win some medals. We want to let everyone know that we are here."