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(BEIJING, CHINA) – Heavyweight Deontay Wilder (Tuscaloosa, Ala.) has enjoyed a quick rise to the top of the boxing world, competing in his first Olympic bout less than three years after he first stepped into a boxing gym. Wilder hoped to continue his rapid ascent in a first round match-up with Algeria’ Abdelaziz Touilbini in Wednesday’s action at the Workers Indoor Arena in Beijing. Wilder showcased his trademark fourth round comeback to win a 10-4 decision over Toulibin and advance to quarterfinal competition.
Light flyweight Luis Yanez (Duncanville, Texas) was finally able to take the ring after a tumultuous month, battling Spain’s Jose Kelvin de la Nieve in first round action. Yanez outboxed de la Nieve from the start to win a 12-9 decision and join four teammates in the next round. The 19-year-old stuck to his game plan from the opening bell, utilizing effective movement to evade de la Nieve’s punches. He scored the opening blow, but de la Nieve quickly returned fire in what was a close round from bell to bell. “I was in planning to go in there boxing, keep my hands up. I know what kind of fighter he was so I just went in there protected,” Yanez said.
The first two minutes ended with the bout tied at 3-3. Yanez returned to his movement in the second, throwing hooks in combination and held a slim 5-4 edge at the midway point. Yanez enjoyed a strong third round, letting his hands go with fast combinations and straight shots down the middle, doubling his point total to go into the fourth round with a 10-6 lead. He continued to outmaneuver de la Nieve in the fourth, evading the oncoming Spaniards shots to win a 12-9 final decision. The victory advances Yanez on to the second round where he will face Serdoma Purevdorj of Mongolia.
“It was my first fight, it was a little but rusty, and now I can go get ready for my next opponent. I’m just so happy that the first bell finally sounded,” Yanez said. “It made me feel so good, and I went in there and had fun. Thank you God.”
Wilder recorded the first victory of the day for his U.S. team, competing in his first bout of the Olympic Games. He used the first round to test out his unknown opponent, throwing combinations later in the round but trailing by a 2-0 margin after the opening two minutes. Wilder picked up the pace in the second round, landing long 1-2 combinations, and cutting Toulibini’s lead in half. The Algerian boxer held a 2-1 advantage at the halfway mark of the bout, but the deficit only motivated the towering Wilder. In the first round, our whole strategy was to come out and get a feeling for how he moves, if he’s orthodox or southpaw, what his speed his like and what his footwork is like,” Wilder said. “Once we got that down and we knew a little more about him, all I had to do was just listen to my corner.”
With the loud support of World Champion Rau’shee Warren from the crowd, Wilder began to turn up the heat in the third, capping the round with a strong shot to give Toulibini a standing eight count. With only two minutes of action remaining, Wilder trailed by a 4-3 margin, but he knew that the fourth round always belongs to him. This bout was no exception as Wilder started the round firing, landing a strong combination of punches to take the lead. He kept coming at the exhausted Toulibini, giving him a second standing eight count and moving out to an 8-4 advantage. Wilder kept the shots coming through the end of the bout to win a 10-4 final decision.
“We wanted him to take his time with the guy. We know the type of power Deontay has and we know that he can break guys down. When he was down two points, and came back to the corner at the end of the round, no one got excited,” Olympic Head Coach Dan Campell said. “We said okay, now you need to turn it up a bit. We told him what punches we wanted him to throw and he went out there and executed. He came back at the end of the next round, we asked him to turn it up again and he did just that.”
As there are fewer heavyweight boxers in Olympic competition, Wilder now stands only one victory away from a medal. He will face Morocco’s Mohammed Arjaoui in quarterfinal competition.
“I look forward to carrying the same spirit through the next three rounds. I have goals set for myself. I can see myself on that gold medal pedestal so I’m not going to stop. I’m not going to give up.” Wilder said. “If my man thinks he’s the strongest, I’m going to show him that I’m stronger. If he thinks he’s quicker, I’m going to show him I’m the fastest. If he thinks he can go a little bit longer, I’m going to go the longest. That’s how it’s going to be so I hope and pray everything goes alright from here on.”
Welterweight World Champion Demetrius Andrade (Providence, R.I.) will return to the ring on Thursday, facing off with Russia’s Andrey Balanov in second round action. The two met at the World Cup in 2005 when Andrade was only 17-years-old with Balanov winning a 35-17 decision. Balanov is one of the oldest boxers competing in the Olympic Games at 32. The two didn’t meet at the recent world championships as he lost before he advanced to a match-up with Andrade. The now 20-year-old won his first bout at the Olympic Games on Sunday, taking an 11-9 decision over Georgia’s Kakahaber Jvania.
Luis Yanez Quotes
“It depends what kind of fighter it is, but from now on, I’m going to go in there and have fun.”
“To tell you the truth it made me stronger (watching his teammates lose). It made me stronger in my head. It made me think how hard we have to work and I went in and I showed it tonight.”
“I want to go in there and put everything behind us. Everything’s good, I’m here and we’re working hard. I’m going to continue to work hard until I get that gold medal.”
“He told me to keep my hands up and stop pulling straight back, move to the left and right. Coach Herb told me the same thing. He told me to catch him coming in with a 2-3-2 and that was basically what was happening.”
“2-3-2, I was catching him every time with a hook and a straight left. I had fun and that’s what you had to do, go in there and have fun.”
“Dennis told me to go in there and have fun and be the Latin Legend and that’s what I’m going to do.”
“Everything happens for a reason. God works in mysterious ways. I’m here with Dan, he’s a good guy. We’re here working, we’re working really hard and we’re going to get through this. Our whole team is working together.”
“Getting off first is always important because that’s what the judges look for, who’s first and if he sees that he’s first and he’s going to look at that person more often.”
Deontay Wilder quotes
“I know I was down, my coaches were telling me Deontay, you’re down two. You need to step it up a little bit more. Coming into the third and fourth, we use the term ‘bring the dog out’. In the ring in sparring, I usually bark because I’m bringing the dog out. Basically they released the leash, I’m in shape and I’m determined. I’ve only been in this sport a little over two and a half years, and God has made me come a long way and I don’t think he’s going to leave me now. I’ve come too far and worked extremely hard, so hard, and I always tell people success is not easy if you are trying to become the best at what you do. I’m in shape, I feel great. I’m just like a Frosted Flakes box, I feel great.”
“All the hard work and determination gave me the will and I have USA behind me, my home state of Alabama behind me. The people in China remember me from the Test Event, when we were here in November and they are all behind me. When you have so many people behind you, it feels like if you have God with you, who can be against you.”
“I have gotten great with that left. I have built up a tremendous left hand, and I’ve knocked a couple people out in sparring and in different countries. That’s another secret weapon I have going for me. I’ve worked hard with the coaches. Even after practice, we worked extra hours on different things. I think that’s what has made me stand out. We’ve worked extra hard for hours. I want to get it right and be perfect in the ring for the fans.”
“I just brushed it off (getting a point taken for holding). I didn’t know what I did. He hit me in the back of the head and I just want everything to be fair with the ref in the ring and the judges outside of the ring. I just want everything to be fair, we’ve worked extremely hard to be here and for the judges to take it, hurts, but I try to work through it. By him taking a point away from me, I knew that he was going to be up so it just made me work harder. I’d like to thank the ref, that’s why I shook his hand. It just made me work harder because I knew that he was up one or two more points and I just wanted to get it back so I give him thanks.”
“I love the crowd, they just keep me going. I’m a performer, I like to give the crowd a performance. They paid good money and they have come to support the Olympics, all the countries, plus they have shown me so much love.”
“After the last bout (Rau’shee Warren’s loss), everyone was kind of down but this is the Olympics. Things happen sometimes, but we are all taking it very well. Hopefully in the next couple of bouts, we can come out strong with our mindset focused. Hopefully by that much right there, I’m showing them that we all have a chance. We can still can do it, I hope that seeing me doing that lifts up our spirits even more.”
“Muhammad Ali and Tommy Hearns are my models as a fighter. I think that they are great. Muhammad Ali for his courage, ability to predict a fight and he was able to see that through. I’m not a big talker like he is; I don’t think anybody ever can be, but just his determination. Tommy Hearns was a quiet guy but I loved his jab, he had a tremendous jab. The way he would stick it out there and stand those guys up because your jab is your key punch to set up the right hand. He just executed the jab and was strong with the right so I love both of those guys.”
“Sometimes I lay in my bed and just let out a breath and I can’t believe it. I still can’t believe it. I just tell people every day, people that know me and people that don’t know me. This is just a blessing. I can’t say enough how much this is a blessing for me. I think I’m going to be saying that from now until years on. It’s just unheard of, it’s unreal and a fairy tale. From a kid coming up and having dreams in football and basketball and then getting into boxing and making the Olympic Team in something I knew very little about. To know what it feels like to be an Olympian, to represent your country, I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.
Dan Campbell Quotes
“The guy was initiating holding and Dentay was trying to keep his balance and that happens a lot with Deontay because he’s so powerful and strong. He got called and again, he didn’t get excited and he went and got his points back”.
“He’s like a sponge, he picks things up. When he came to camp, we told him that there would be a lot of one and one with several coaches. I brought in coaches who are good with heavyweights, especially the coach from the Army and they worked one-on-one with Deontay.”
“I think it picks up the spirit of the team. Last night, everyone was a little bit depressed. It affected Deontay, visibly more than everyone else. So we started talking to him about it, and this morning, he had shaken it and gotten over it. By the time we came to the venue, he was okay.”