Tuesday July 20th, 2010

Two-time Olympian Rau'shee Warren was among the winners last weekend at the USA Boxing Championships in Colorado Springs. Warren, 23, boxing out of Louisville, stopped Philadelphia's Michael Cartegena at 1:40 of the second round to win the 114-pound division and his fourth national title. The win gives him an early lead on earning a spot on another Olympic team. Should he make it, Warren would become the first U.S. boxer in history to compete at the Games three times.

Warren's rags to ropes story began at the age of six when he started working out at a gym on the east side of Cincinnati, known for having launched the career of junior welterweight world champ Aaron Pryor. Warren's mother, Paulette, originally objected to his sparing when she saw an opponent who was five inches taller than her son. Her fears were soon quelled when she noticed the other boy lying on the canvas.

Warren earned a berth in the light flyweight (106-pound) class on the 2004 Olympic team in Athens, where he was the youngest male member of the entire U.S. delegation. He later dropped a decision in his first bout to China's Zou Shiming, the eventual gold medalist. In 2007, Warren won the world amateur flyweight title in Chicago and seemed primed for Olympic glory. He qualified easily for the team, becoming the first U.S. athlete to box at two Olympics since Davey Armstrong. But Warren made a costly strategic error in Beijing. Thinking he was ahead on points in his first bout against Korean Lee Ok-sung, he danced around the ring, avoiding contact so he could protect a lead he didn't have. Instead, Lee scored a 9-8 decision, and the U.S. team left Beijing with just a single bronze medal -- the worst showing in its history.

After dropping a controversial tiebreaker decision at nationals in 2009 to Jesus Magdeleno, Warren returned with a fury last weekend. He was leading Cartagena, 19-1, on Saturday when officials stopped the bout. "I'm going to make my mark," Warren told SI last year, "no matter how long it takes me."

• At a presentation in New York last Friday, the IOC announced the Dow Chemical Company as a new top sponsor in a deal that is reportedly worth $75 million over 10 years. It was good news for the committee during a sagging economy that has also delayed the bidding for U.S. television rights to host the Games in 2012 and 2014. NBC and ABC/ESPN are thought to be the main players, though Fox chairman Rupert Murdoch has given conflicting statements about his network's interest.

Timo Lumme, managing director of the IOC's television and marketing services, told SI last week he doesn't expect an announcement this year. "We're going to let the economic market decide the time for that," he said. "We usually start quite a long way in advance. We're not pressed. We're not hurried. We're going to take a look at the situation, but it isn't going to happen before 2011."

Look for the Games to head to Africa in the not-too-distant future, too. Cape Town and Cairo have been mentioned as options, but Durban may be the front-runner for the next strong African bid. "We have a slogan of universality," says influential IOC member Gerhard Heiberg, chairman of the committee's marketing commission. "We have to organize the Games all over the world. It's time now for South America. It will be a new challenge if Durban comes, or some other South African city. There will be other strong bids for 2020, like Madrid, Tokyo, but it will be time to consider Africa at some point."

Heiberg also said he felt the relationship between the IOC and USOC had improved since the strained relations between the factions culminated in Chicago's failed Olympic bid in 2009. "The new [USOC] leadership has been very open and humble," he says. "I feel our discussions with them have been friendly and positive."

His advice to them: "Try to engage more in various roles within the Olympic movement. Try to focus on the leadership of the international federations and aim for greater influence at that level."

• Imagine how dominant the former Yugoslavia would be in water polo had it remained a country. Serbia reclaimed the Men's Water Polo World League final title this year, followed by Montenegro and Croatia. The Serbs, who were champions in 2007 and 2008, won in a penalty shootout after the score ended 10-10 in regulation time. The United States finished fifth in the tournament.

• Rumors that Spain's Javier Gomez, once the world's dominant triathlete, was finished because of lingering injuries can be put to rest. The former world champion blitzed the field in Hamburg on Saturday to win his first race of the season in the ITU World Championship Series. Gomez, who had been bothered by hip and hamstring ailments over the past two years, used a running split of 29 minutes, 17 seconds to outlast Germany's Jan Frodeno, who remains the world's No. 1 ranked triathlete in 2010. Gomez finished in 1:43.07, with Frodeno 16 seconds off the pace. The 2009 winner, Jarrod Shoemaker of the U.S. took seventh, 1:03 off the front.

• La madre naturaleza was in a foul mood on Saturday in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, kicking up winds that approached 100 mph and causing postponement of the Opening Ceremony for the Central American and Caribbean Games. Scaffolding from the top of Jose Figueroa Olympic Stadium crashed onto cars in an adjacent parking lot, causing officials to close the stadium doors and evacuate the workers already inside hours before the ceremony was due to begin. The Ceremony took place on Sunday, with most of the 5,000 athletes in attendance.

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