(CHATTANOOGA, TENN.) – Two members of the Olympic Team lead their United States team into action on Saturday night at the USA vs. Dominican Republic in Chattanooga, Tenn. A packed house enjoyed 10 bouts in the final competition for the United States Olympic Team before the Olympic Games this summer. Flyweight Rau’shee Warren (Cincinnati, Ohio) and heavyweight Deontay Wilder (Tuscaloosa, Ala.) both closed the event in impressive fashion in their final bouts before Beijing.
Warren was the first of the two U.S. Olympians to compete, facing off with fellow two-time Olympian Juan Carlos Payano of the Dominican Republic. The American boxer looked to send a message early in the contest, flying out of the corner with a barrage of punches. He held a 10-5 lead after the first, but continued to apply pressure in the second, moving out to a 22-9 edge after two rounds of action. The pace slowed in the round, but Warren held on to his double-digit advantage, taking a 24-12 lead into the final round. Warren returned to his original pace in the second, landing several thundering body shots on his way to a 32-15 final decision.
Heavyweight Deontay Wilder (Tuscaloosa, Ala.) was the final U.S. boxer to step through the ropes, challenging the Dominican Republic’s Juan de Jesus Paredes. Wilder didn’t face much of a challenging, enjoying an impressive performance close to home. Wilder dictated the pace throughout, taking a 7-0 lead after the first round and continuing his shutout through the second round to take a 14-0 lead at the midway point. Wilder maintained his onslaught in the third round, before ending the bout with a devastating right hand. The thundering shot dropped Paredes to the canvas and caused the referee to jump in and a call a halt to the bout at the 1:54 mark of the third round.
A light flyweight bout opened the evening’s action with Malcolm Franklin (Rialto, Calif.) taking on 2008 Olympian Winston Montero of the Dominican Republic. Montero took the early lead in the contest, holding a 5-2 edge after the first round. Yet Franklin mounted a comeback in the second, pulling the bout to a 7-7 tie at the halfway mark of the bout. Montero regained his lead in the third round, claiming a 10-8 lead with two minutes of action remaining. The Dominican boxer extended his advantage over the final round to claim a 20-12 final decision.
In bantamweight action, Olympic training partner David Clark (San Diego, Calif.) faced off with the Dominican Republic’s Claudio Marrero. Once again it was the Dominican boxer snatching the early lead as Marrero enjoyed a 6-2 advantage at the end of the first. He continued to build on his lead in the second, moving out to a 10-3 edge at the halfway mark. The third round told a similar tale with Clark once again trailing by seven at the end of third. Marrero went on to claim a 23-10 victory and the second win of the night for the United States team.
The featherweight division took the ring for the third bout of the event as Robert Rodriguez (Evans, Colo.) battled 2008 Olympian Roberto Navarro of the Dominican Republic. The contest was close through the early going with the two boxers competing to a 3-3 tie at the end of two minutes of boxing. Yet Navarro grabbed the lead in the second and never look back. He claimed a 10-7 lead at the midway mark and extended it to a 14-7 margin as the final round began. Navarro went on to win a 15-9 final decision.
Light welterweight Daniel O’Connor (Framingham, Mass.) turned the tide for his United States team in his bout with 2008 Olympian Felix Manuel Diaz of the Dominican Republic. O’Connor held Diaz scoreless in the fourth round while building up an impressive point total of his own. He took a 7-0 lead into the second and extended it to a 10-0 margin before Diaz recorded his first scoring blow. O’Connor enjoyed a 13-4 lead as the bout moved into the second half and extended his advantage to double digits in the third to take an 18-7 advantage into the final two minutes of action. The American boxer claimed the first win for the U.S., holding on over the final round to win a 21-10 final decision.
Welterweight Anthony Campbell (Covington, Tenn.) got the opportunity to compete in his home state as he battled 2008 Olympian Gilbert Lenin Castillo of the Dominican Republic in the sixth bout of Saturday’s action. He rode his home crowd to the early lead, claiming a slim 4-2 edge after the first before extending it to a 9-4 advantage at the midway point. Yet Castillo came flying back in the second, chipping away at his lead throughout the round to pull the bout to an 11-11 tie with one round remaining. Campbell took a slim one-point lead in the fourth round, but Castillo landing a scoring blow in the final second of the contest to send the bout to a 12-12 tie. Yet it was Campbell grabbing the victory on the total punch count tie count by a 29-27 margin.
Middleweight action highlighted the seventh bout of the dual with J’Leon Love (Dearborn Heights, Mich.) challenging 2008 Olympian Argenis Nunez of the Dominican Republic. The bout was low scoring from the start with the first round ending in a one-all tie. Love held Nunez scoreless in the second round, taking a 3-1 lead at the halfway mark of the bout. After the referee took a point from Love in the third, Nunez pulled the bout to a 5-5 tie with one round remaining. Love controlled the fourth round, nearly doubling his point total to win a 9-6 decision.
Light heavyweight Christopher Downs (Fort Carson, Colo.) finally got the opportunity compete near his original hometown of Knoxville, Tenn., and he enjoyed it in his contest with the Dominican Republic’s Warlerdy Rodriguez. Downs controlled every second of the bout, claiming a 10-2 lead after the first and extending his lead to a ten-point margin with two rounds remaining. He kept up the pressure over the final four minutes of action, giving Rodriguez two standing eight counts late in the bout. Downs went on to win a 23-4 final victory to the delight of the vocally supportive crowd.
Super heavyweight Kimdo Bethel (Albany, N.Y.) continued the U.S. winning streak in his bout with the Dominican Republic’s Antonio Mejia. Bethel dominated the bout from the opening bell, holding Mejia scoreless throughout the contest. He held a 9-0 lead after two rounds and extended his lead in the third, landing a barrage of punches, and causing Mejia’s corner to throw in the towel at the :23 mark of the round. Bethel held a 17-0 advantage at the time of the retirement.
Basheer Abdullah (Fort Carson, Colo.), Andy Smith (Chattanooga, Tenn.) and Charles Leverette (Fort Carson, Colo.) served as the coaches for the United States team at the USA vs. Dominican Republic Dual.