Gary Russell, Jr. and Raynell Williams Punch Their Tickets for Beijing

(CHICAGO, ILL.) – Bantamweight Gary Russell, Jr. (Capitol Heights, Md.) became the first member of the U.S. team to officially earn a spot in Beijing with a 22-14 decision over fellow 2005 World Championships bronze medalist and 2004 Olympian Ali Hallab of France. Featherweight Raynell Williams (Cleveland, Ohio) followed quickly with an outstanding third round stoppage of Armenia’s Anat Hovhannisyan.

The first two rounds between the accomplished boxers were a chess match with both boxers looking for the opportunity to counter. The first round ended with Russell holding a slim 3-2 advantage. The opening 30 seconds of the second round elapsed with both boxers circling and looking for an opening, but it was the American boxer who found the mark. He began to open up in the second round, sending Hallab through the ropes on his way to an 8-3 lead at the midway point. Russell used movement and defense to counter the oncoming Hallab in the third round and enjoyed a 16-10 cushion as the final two minutes began. Russell outmaneuvered the wild Hallab in the fourth round to win a 22-14 final decision and a berth at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China.

“The first two rounds, he tried to box but my speed was a lot more than his so I had the advantage on that. After the second, he wanted to throw a lot of punches so he could get his points up and it made it a lot easier to get my shots off,” Russell said. “Everything else is fun (now that I’ve qualified). Before it was business, but now everything is fun.”

Russell will face Russia’s Sergey Vodopyanov in quarterfinal competition on Thursday.

Williams controlled every second of his short bout with Hovhannisyan, utilizing his great foot work and crisp punches to move out to a commanding lead in the first round. He scored seven unanswered points in the first and held an 8-1 advantage at the end of three round. The show continued into the second as Williams got off quick straight punches and moved out of Hovhannisyan’s range before he could answer. He extended his lead to a 16-2 margin after four minutes of boxing. The third round began in a similar fashion but Williams saw the stoppage in sight and stepped up the heat. He and Hovhannisyan engaged in frenetic exchanges with Williams getting the better of the action and Williams racked up the points. He moved out to a 23-3 lead at the 1:25 mark of the third to win the mandatory stoppage.

“The straight left was landing all day so I couldn’t go wrong with it. Once you get the lead, all they try to do is rush you so you just have to pick your shots,” Williams said. “He just came straight forward, and they told me to use my angles like we’d been practicing and that’s what I did.”

Light welterweight Javier Molina (Commerce, Calif.) and middleweight Shawn Estrada (E. Los Angeles, Calif.) will compete in the evening session, taking on England’s Bradley Saunders and Germany’s Konstantin Buga respectively.

Williams will battle Russia’s Albert Selimov in Thursday’s quarterfinal action.

Gary Russell, Jr. quotes

“The key is to get up on points. I had a hard time going into the later rounds because my trunks kept sliding up into my stomach and I had trouble breathing. I had the lead so I tried to control the bout and maintain my lead.”

“He was getting desperate and trying to get points so that he could win. I’m glad it went four because I had to get a sweat going.”

“I don’t really get nervous before my bouts, my father on the other hand, he gets shaken up.”

“He got a bronze in the last world championships, but I never got a chance to face him.”

“They never really told me how far I was up. I always figured I was up in the bout. He started coming so I could basically counter.”

“I came here to try to win the whole thing. This was just another bout, the only difference was that it qualified me to go to the Olympics. I’m going and now we can have fun.”

“When you are trying to suck win and you get tired and the cup is pressing on your stomach, its hard to breathe.”

“It means a lot (to earn an Olympic berth), when I realized I was good at what I do. I started realizing that it was about me, but it really wasn’t. It was about what I could do for my family and people around me and this is exactly what I need to do that.”

“I started thinking about the Olympics when I was 14. When I won the first U.S. Championships, I was when I first thought I could make the Olympic Team.”

“This is for my family, I can’t let him stand in the way of feeding my family. I’ve got five little brothers.”

“I have to see how my father reacts, when I see his reaction, it might seem real.”

“He (my father) said Speed Kills right before the bout.”

Raynell Williams quotes

“We always plan to get the lead in the first round so they have to chase us. That’s what happened and it made the bout easy for me.”

“The confidence has been building up all week toward the gold. I feel really good today.”

“He told me to keep doing what I was doing because it was working well.”

“The first bout was my championship bout, I’m just waiting until the third so I can get the gold medal.”

“It feels wonderful, now all I have to go for is the gold. My first thing was to qualify a spot for the Olympics and that’s what I did and now I’m here to get that gold.”

“My teammates told me I had six more to go and then they said four and three so I knew I had to get him out of there.”

“It’s wonderful (to compete in the U.S.), you get the crowd behind you and that’s all you need to push forward.”

“This is the first stepping stone, I’m just building up to compete in Beijing.”

“When I lost at the Golden Gloves championships, I was going to quit but my mother told me to go to the Western Trials. Everything from then on as been good. When I got back home from the Golden Gloves finals, she told me I was going (to the Western Trials) and that’s the only thing that she said. I couldn’t tell her no so I went.”

“I’m going to college after I get finished with the Olympics. I’m going to major in accounting or stocks and bonds.”

“It (losing at the Golden Gloves) was devastating because I knew it was going to take me to the U.S. Championships and Olympics Trials. My mother told me never to give up. I did my best and they still give it to him. I was thinking about taking a little break.”

“I’m going to put my main focus into going to school, I’m thinking about going to Kent State.”

“I take them one day at a time. I was glad I got it over so fast but I could have gone the whole four, I was ready.”

Javier Molina and Shawn Estrada are Eliminated from the 2007 World Championships

(CHICAGO, ILL.) – Middleweight Shawn Estrada (E. Los Angeles, Calif.) mounted a tremendous comeback at the 2007 AIBA World Championships, but dropped a 12-12 tiebreaker to Germany’s Konstantin Buga. Light welterweight Javier Molina (Commerce, Calif.) enjoyed two impressive opening wins but his World Championships run ended on Tuesday night with a 24-12 loss to England’s Bradley Saunders.

Estrada fell behind early in his bout with Buga, trailing by a 3-1 margin after the first round and facing a 6-2 deficit at the midway point. Yet he came flying back in the third round, pulling the bout to a tie at several points in the round and tiring his German opponent. He trailed by a slim 9-8 score as the fourth round began. The crowd rose to a feverous pitch with every Estrada shot and despite Buga’s constant holding and pushing Estrada’s head down, the American managed to land several strong punches. Although Buga held at every opportunity, no point was taken and Estrada struggled to get free and land punches. Yet he pulled the bout to a 11-11 tie and to the disappointment of the throngs of American fans at the UIC Pavilion, Buga was named the winner on a tiebreaker.

“I started slow but I broke him down at the end. The guy couldn’t even stand at the end at the end of the round, but I did my best. I thought I had it, the guy was falling. I had him out-pointed, he couldn’t even stand. I dominated the ring,” Estrada said. “I showed the people I wanted it more. I did all I can.”

Molina could not find his rhythm in his third round match-up with Saunders and fell behind by a slim 3-2 margin after the first. Both boxers doubled their point total in the second stanza but Molina managed to keep the bout close and trailed 6-4 at the halfway mark of the bout. Yet Saunders took over in the third, building up a 17-9 advantage with three late points. Molina came out aggressively in the fourth round, pressing the action and landing several shots as well as giving Saunders a standing eight count. Yet he couldn’t make a dent in his deficit and he dropped the 24-12 final decision.

“I just kept chasing, every time I came in, he kept getting me with a hook. I guess that’s where he was getting all his points. I was to tense in there, I should have been more relaxed,” Molina said. "“I’m very disappointed. I came here to qualify and to get that gold medal and I didn’t even qualify so now I have to go to Trinidad to qualify there.”

Light flyweight Luis Yanez (Duncanville, Texas) and flyweight Rau’shee Warren (Cincinnati, Ohio) will compete in afternoon action on Wednesday with Yanez facing Australia’s Stephen Sutherland and Warren battling the Philippines’ Violito Payla. Welterweight Demetrius Andrade and super heavyweight Michael Hunter will take the ring in the evening session, taking on Magomed Nurundinov of Belarus and Iran’s Jasem Delavari respectively.

Javier Molina quotes“I learned to stay more relaxed, don’t let myself get nervous and tensed up in there.”

“It was a pretty good learning experience, I won two fights up here and I lost my third one and it was a good learning experience.”

“I just couldn’t stay lose up there, I was too tense and I felt like I was pushing all my punches. I couldn’t really let my punches go. I don’t know why, I probably let everything with qualifying for the Olympics get to me a little.”

“We’re all a team, we all want each other to do well and qualify. I’m very confident that I’ll get in, I just wish that I couldn’t have gotten in on the first one.”

Shawn Estrada quotes

“I thought I won that fight, but I kept my composure. I did my job and the judges did their job. I’m just glad to be here, it’s an honor to box in the World Championships. I thank God for this opportunity but I thought I pulled off the win. It happens, its boxing.”

“I had him dropped, I dropped him a couple times. I don’t know what more the judges want from me, I thought I did an excellent job. I’m happy just to be here. I’m a proud American to box for America. I did my best.”

“It’s really disappointing, I worked so hard to come up here. Even though, I lost I’m going to come back, they are still going to see my Olympics.”

“I gained experience and a wake up call. I need to dominate the first round.”

“I’m going to be a stronger boxer and more focused at the next qualifier. I made a big name, the German was no pushover, I fought Japan and Israel. You can ask any country and they will always remember me. I made a mark here and they are going to have to deal with me, I’m coming.”

“I’ll make it to the Olympics.”

Article posted on 30.10.2007

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