Olympic dream is achieved

HOUSTON — Las Vegas’ Michael Hunter thought he fought a “sloppy fight” Saturday night in the super heavyweight finals of the U.S. Olympic Boxing Team Trials.

The scorecard read differently.

Hunter, a 2006 graduate of Palo Verde High School, routed Kimbdo Bethel, of Albany, N.Y., 14-7 to capture the 201-pound-plus division and earn an automatic bid into next summer’s Olympics in Beijing.

“It’s a great feeling. I can’t even explain it now,” said Hunter, 19, who had sent Bethel into the consolation bracket Wednesday with a 16-6 victory. “A lot of people believed in me.

“I feel good and I feel blessed, truly blessed.”

Hunter, who weighs 210, said he thought he fought a sloppy fight because he struggled with Bethel’s awkward style. Hunter led 10-6 entering the fourth and final round but expanded upon it rather than allowing Bethel to catch up.

“I felt I had the quicker hands,” Hunter said.

“My mom (Gwen) couldn’t stop bawling afterward,” he continued. “But it was a good cry.”

Hunter’s father, Michael, was a journeyman heavyweight in the early 1990s. He was fatally shot in a confrontation with two police officers on the roof of a Los Angeles hotel in 2006.

Meanwhile, Rau’shee Warren became the first American boxer in 31 years to qualify for consecutive Olympic teams by overpowering Qa’id Muhammad in the flyweight championship bout.

Warren, 20, battered Muhammad from the opening bell and built a 23-1 lead before the referee stopped the fight 1:11 into the second round. Warren becomes the first U.S. boxer to make back-to-back Olympic squads since Davey Lee Armstrong in 1972 and 1976.

In 2004, Warren was 17 and the youngest member of the U.S. team when he lost to China’s Zou Chiming in Athens.

Still sweating from his victory, Warren already was looking ahead to the World Championships in October.

“I just completed one part of the puzzle,” Warren said. “Now, I’ve got to complete two, the worlds. The third is that medal.

“All I’ve got to do is stay focused.”

In early bouts, Luis Yanez stopped Malcolm Franklin at 106 pounds; Gary Russell Jr. defeated Roberto Marroquin at 119; Hylon Williams beat Raynell Williams at 125; and Sadam Ali stopped Miguel Gonzalez at 132.

Later, Javier Molina beat Danny Garcia at 141; Demetrius Andrade stopped Keith Thurman at 152; Shawn Estrada defeated Daniel Jacobs at 165; Christopher Downs stopped Yathomas Riley at 178; and Deontay Wilder defeated Quantis Graves before Hunter concluded the night with his triumph over Bethel.

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