WITH five Olympic tours between them, Juan Carlos Payano and Rau’shee Warren both excelled as amateur boxers. They will meet on Sunday night [August 2] as professionals for Payano’s WBA ‘super’ world bantamweight title at the Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida.
Payano represented the Dominican Republic in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, losing both times in the second round, while Warren remains the only American to box at three separate Games (2004, 2008 and 2012) but never made it past the first round of the competition.
However, the both found success in the unpaid ranks outside of the Olympics, with Warren winning two bronze and one gold medal at the World Championships while Payano picked up two silver Pan American Games medals.
Their amateur careers only crossed paths once, when Warren came out on top, and they will now put their unbeaten professional records on the line over 12 rounds with Bounce TV televising in the US and BoxNation in the UK.
It could be a night of significant firsts for the 28-year-old Warren. He will be the first member of the US 2012 Olympic team, which included Errol Spence Jnr and Marcus Browne, to fight for a world title. Should he win, he will be the first African American to hold a 118lb world title since Tim Austin’s IBF run from 1997-2003 – interestingly, Austin, like Warren, is from Cincinnati, Ohio.
However, Payano represents a significant step up in class for Rau’shee who has made easy work of his 13 opponents to date. The 31-year-old dethroned long-reigning champion Anselmo Moreno last September with a technical decision after six rounds of a scheduled 12. An accidental clash of heads in the second cut Moreno above his eye and he managed to outwork Moreno until the bout was stopped, ending ‘Chemito’’s six-year reign.
More than 10 months will have passed since that win for Payano by the time he steps through the ropes on Sunday night, while Warren has remained active, last fighting in March, albeit for 52 seconds after he stopped the unheralded Javier Gallo inside a round.
A decisive win over the experienced Luis Maldonado earlier in his career proved Payano has adapted to the professional game well, although he is yet to go 12 rounds and the same goes for Warren.
Payano’s aggressive, sometimes erratic, style will be a new challenge for Warren who has predominantly been able to set the pace against his overmatched foes. Both men fight with their lead right hands held low, although Warren relies more on head movement while Payano will sometimes bring his guard up when under attack.
Warren has shown glimpses of adept footwork in the past but has never faced anything close to adversity in the ring. For the most part, he has fought on the front foot but at a relatively slow pace, eager to avoid fire fights.
Payano likes to impose his strength and fight on the inside and Warren’s notable lack of power means he is unlikely to be able to hold Payano off with his punches. Instead, he will need to draw on his considerable amateur experience and box from the outside and attempt to catch the champion as he piles in.
However, this fight may have come too early for Warren. Payano’s dogged work rate and dangerous salvos are likely to be too much for Rau’shee to handle. It should be a highly competitive fight and it’s certainly a close one to call, but Payano’s experience and style should see him outwork Warren over 12 and earn a close decision on the cards.
TALE OF THE TAPE-
JUAN CARLOS PAYANO
DOB/AGE-Apr 12, 1984/31
HOMETOWN- Miami, Florida, USA
HEIGHT- 5ft 5ins
RECORD- 16-0 (8)
DEBUT/AGE- Aug 21, 2010/26
KO PERCENTAGE- 50
DOB/AGE- Feb 13, 1987/28
HOMETOWN- Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
HEIGHT- 5ft 4.5ins
RECORD- 13-0 (4)
DEBUT/AGE- Nov 9 2012/25
KO PERCENTAGE- 29