On Tuesday, August 12, 2008, the U.S. boxing team suffered a devastating blow when top Gold Medal hopeful Rau’shee Warren lost in his first elimination bout to Korea’s Oksung Lee. Warren was the first U.S. boxer since Davey Lee Armstrong in 1972 and 1976 to compete in two Olympic Games.
Warren came into the Beijing Olympics as the current flyweight world champion and was the favorite to win the division. He entered the ring with a picture of his eight month-old son taped to his shoes, similar to when Sugar Ray Leonard taped a picture of his infant son to his shoes in the 1976 Olympics.
But unfortunately for Warren and the U.S., his outcome was not the same as Leonard’s.
The southpaw Warren’s hand speed and quickness were evident in the first round as he got out to an early two point lead. Warren, unconventionally, was able to jump in and score effectively against Lee, who didn’t take long to pinpoint the timing of Warren to score his own points. The first round ended with the score 2-2.
The second round was filled with back and forth action. Every time that Warren would score a point to take the lead, Lee would score as well, keeping the bout a tie 6-6 at the end of round two.
At the start of the third round, both fighters came out swinging with aggressive exchanges, but no clean punches registered a point for either fighter. Warren landed a clean left, to which the Korean fighter was credited a point.
In a slow motion review of the scoring, it was clear that Warren landed and Lee had not even been throwing a punch but Lee was still credited with the point. It was the first time that Warren was behind in the match, and he replied by slipping left and countering with his left, registering a point ending the round at 7-7.
The fight became physical in the final round with Warren tying up Lee while moving forward, which dropped Lee to the canvas. In a rare occurrence, Lee landed a body shot that registered a point. Both fighters exchanged punches, scoring one point each with the bout now in Lee’s favor 9-8.
During the last thirty-five seconds of the round, Warren seemingly thought he was the one winning the fight and chose to stay away from Lee by dancing around him and not throwing any punches.
Finally with four seconds left on the clock, Warren looked towards his coaches who were yelling at him to throw punches and he realized he must be behind, but at that point it was too late and the match was over, along with Warren’s hopes for a Gold Medal.
It was a crushing loss for the U.S. and for Warren, who also lost in the first round in the Athens Olympics in 2004.
After the fight, Warren was clearly upset and in an interview said, “I don’t understand the score at all, every time I was running off the combinations, he would get a point off of what I throw; that’s not right.”
When asked why he avoided the fighter at the end of the fourth round, Warren said, “There was so much going on, people were hollering loud and I couldn’t hear my coach saying I was down.”
The obviously disappointed Warren said, “This is the second time, I worked so hard for four years and I got this far and lost the first day. I don’t get it, I don’t get the judges.”
Having watched the fight a few times, I feel that Warren ’s complaint is legitimate, seeing one blatant mistake when he landed the punch and his opponent was given the point. In addition, there were another three instances when clear punches were landed and no points were registered at all.
Looking at the fight, it seems clear that Warren was the winner, however as close as the scoring had been through round three, with each round being even, he should have engaged Lee in the last thirty-five seconds on the fight. He did not throw a single punch for that time, which he could have used to widen the margin on an already closely scored match.