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(BEIJING, CHINA) – Featherweight Raynell Williams (Cleveland, Ohio) made his Olympic debut on Monday at the Workers Indoor Arena in Beijing and the 19-year-old made sure it was a successful one. Williams faced off with Italy’s Alessio di Savino, and from the opening bell, the American’s boxer kept Di Savino off balance.
I wasn’t nervous at all. I was excited, that’s why I was so loose in there. Being that it’s the Olympics and a big crowd, I just tried to score points. I just try to be relaxed and look at everything,” Williams said.
Williams opened the bout with strong movement and crisp, accurate punches in combination, confusing his Italian foe and he enjoyed a 4-0 lead after the first. He continued with the same game plan in the second round, landing clear scoring blows to build up his point total. Di Savino got on the scoreboard in the second, but it was the only punch he landed in the four round contest. Williams moved out to a strong 7-1 edge at the midway point in the bout.
The third round was a defensive standoff with Williams protecting his lead and Di Savino trying to solve the puzzle. Chants of U-S-A began to cascade into the ring and Williams recorded his sole point of the third round in the closing seconds.
Di Savino came out aggressively in the second, trying to dent his deficit, but Williams refused to give him any opening and went on to win a 9-1 final decision.
“It was a very good warm-up. That’s what I’m trying to do, not get hit. I could have worked on a few more things, it was my first fight,” Williams said. “I had to get a little ring rust off and the next one should be better.”
Williams will battle France’s Khedafi Djelkhir in second round action on August 15. The two boxers met previously at the 2007 World Championships with Williams emerging victorious.
Lightweight Sadam Ali (Brooklyn, N.Y.) took the ring for his Olympic debut at the Workers Indoor Arena in Beijing hoping for an impressive victory, but couldn’t find his rhythm in his opening round contest with Romania’s Popescu Georgian.
Georgian scored the first point of the bout, but Ali quickly returned fire as the boxers faced off in a close early round. It was the Romanian boxer who held the lead after the first, enjoying a slim 3-2 advantage. Georgian turned up the intensity in the second and the 19-year-old just couldn’t find an answer for the Romanian’s fire power, trailing by 9-3 after two. Ali tried to chip away at his deficit in the third, but Georgian took advantage of Ali’s desperation, building his lead to a 16-5 margin. The final two minutes ticked off in similar fashion and Ali dropped a 20-5 final decision.
“I was disappointed in my performance, I didn’t look who I was supposed to and I’m sorry to everyone back home. I didn’t fight my fight and I looked very sloppy,” Ali said. “I was falling over with my punches, looking pretty sloppy. I was supposed to go out there and take the lead. I just felt like I was leaning over too much, it just wasn’t me out there. This is not the last of me and everyone is going to know who I really am.”
The loss eliminates Ali from the 2008 Olympic Games, but the 19-year-old knows that he has created a great legacy for those coming behind him. “I love that I’m the first Arab-American boxer to compete in the Olympics for the United States. It just shows that anybody can do it. I did it, I’ll tell you right now for everyone else who is trying to do it. Good luck to you and I did it for all of you.”
USA Basketball team members Dwight Howard, Chris Paul and Chris Bosh were all in the audience the evening session at the Workers Indoor Arena.
2007 Flyweight World Champion Rau’shee Warren (Cincinnati, Ohio) will compete in his first bout of the 2008 Olympic Games on Tuesday at the Workers Indoor Arena. Warren, the first U.S. boxer in 30 years to compete in two Olympics, will face 2005 World Champion Ok Sung Lee of Korea. The two boxers met up in the finals of the 2005 World Championships with Lee winning a 31-21 decision over Warren in the earlier meeting. The flyweight showdown will be the second bout of the 7 p.m. session, and is scheduled for 7:15 p.m.