Former bantamweight world champ says he's ready to recapture a 118-pound title, and avenge his Olympic loss to France’s Nordine Oubaali when they meet for the WBC's vacant title this Saturday night on Showtime PPV.
Rau’Shee “Nuke” Warren’s favorite movie, The Avengers: Infinity War, has a theme analogous to the redemptive qualities found in his own professional boxing career.
Warren, 31, 16-2 (4 KOs), battles France’s Nordine Oubaali, 14-0 (11 KOs), for the WBC’s vacant 118-pound title this Saturday night, January 19, on a Showtime PPV tripleheader (9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT) at The MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Warren has experienced the highs and lows of boxing. He lost two prior world title bids; an August 2015 split decision loss to fellow southpaw Juan Carlos Payano in one of the best fights that year, and another thrilling, split defeat to Zhanat Zhakiyanov in February 2017.
Warren rebounded to dethrone Payano by majority decision in a June 2016 rematch. Against Oubaali, he attempts to win his second world title. The three-time Olympian also looks to avenge a 19-18 loss to Oubaali in the 2012 Olympic semifinals. The Cincinnati native took a break from training to discuss a variety of topics, including Oubaali, “Donuts with Dad Day” and equality among fellow men and women.
How is training camp?
Barry Hunter runs a great camp, and when you’ve got guys like Lamont Peterson dropping the knowledge from his energy and experience in the pro game, that’s an extra step that helps me to get to where I need to be.
What have you been working on?
The jab wasn’t there in the two Juan Carlos Payano fights. It was a lot of just going in there and slugging, trying to bring the fight to him. The second fight I kind of made it easier, but I still didn’t throw my jab as much.
Over the course of my last two fights, we’ve made it more critical and the most important part of my arsenal, setting up the rest of my punches and making everything easier.
Tell us about your battle with Oubaali in the Olympics.
I lost the fight 19-18. I was winning but in the middle of the second round, both of my contacts came out because of my headgear pushing down on my eyes. So, everything was blurry. Still, I thought I won the fight.
He even seemed very surprised that they announced that he won. But the pros is different, so this is a great opportunity. I feel like Oubaali thinks I’m a slouch. From the interviews I’ve seen, he’s talking about how strong he is.
The people he’s fought aren’t on the level of guys I’ve fought like Payano, Zhakiyanov and McJoe Arroyo. I’ve been sparring with Shakur Stevenson and some other guys, so I’ve got an improved jab that’s accurate and it’s going to play a big factor with my counters.
Do you miss your family during training camp?
I love when I’m able to spend time with my kids, and when I’m gone for the holidays, they want me to be there. But we have a good understanding of what I’m doing. And once I come back to town, whatever holiday we’ve missed, I make up for it.
My oldest son, Rau’Shee Warren Jr., is 11. He’s always calling me, face-timing me and saying he can’t wait for me to come home. My other son, Rue’Shee, is 7, and my daughter Kassiede is 6.
What activities do you enjoy with your children?
I decided to sneak back home for my oldest son’s birthday on December 5. I popped up at his school with my mom and some cupcakes for his whole class and surprised him. He went crazy, thinking I was still out of town. Everybody sang happy birthday to him.
My daughter, her birthday was December 10, and she didn’t know I was at home either. I waited two more days to see her before her birthday because they had a “Donuts with Dad Day.” When I walked into her classroom, she stopped whatever she was doing, ran up and jumped into my arms and was like, “My mom didn’t tell me you were coming.” Moments like that are unforgettable.
“ I lost the fight 19-18. I was winning but in the middle of the second round, both of my contacts came out because of my headgear pushing down on my eyes. So, everything was blurry. Still, I thought I won the fight. ” Former Bantamweight Champ Rau’Shee Warren, on his loss to Nordine Oubaali in the Olympics
What are some activities you do when not at the gym or preparing for a fight?
I’m usually a Friday’s or Texas Roadhouse person, but my girlfriend, Asieanna Saunders, she took me to this place called J. Alexander’s Redlands Grill in Cincinnati. I liked the whole vibe, the people there and the food was crazy.
I liked the chicken alfredo with the Cajun spice, and since I like pork, I added some bacon bits to it. I loved everything in there from their steaks, to their pastas to their salads. If Asieanna ain’t cooking, then I prefer to go there. I probably go there three or four times a week. I like how they treat you and everything.
What is your favorite clothing brand or place to shop for it?
There’s a brand called Black Owned [BLK OWND]. A friend named Macho Means, a guy I went to school with, he started with sweatshirts and now he’s got a clothing line. I never knew he would get to where he’s at now, but the city of Cincinnati has recognized and honored him. On top of that, he’s got a store in Cincinnati now.
When I fought Payano, he made the camouflage outfit that I wore for the first fight. When I won the title, he made the Bengal tiger outfit. He can do whatever I have my mind made up for him to do. I’m into fashion real heavy when I’m not with my kids or my girlfriend.
Do you have a favorite car?
The car I’m driving right now is a Hemi Charger 2015. It’s fast. I love fast cars, but I may have to turn that in for a Dodge Durango SUV, because it’s not just my two kids, it’s also my girlfriend and her two children, so I need more room.
Do you have a favorite boxer?
Ricardo Williams Jr. When he fought in the Olympics in 2000 and won a silver medal, I knew that I wanted to be like him with the way he boxed, moved and acted. He was my motivation in the Olympics, and I learned a lot.
What is your proudest moment as a fighter?
Winning the title in the rematch with Payano after losing the first fight and going to the Olympics three times and coming up short. After I fought Payano the first time, it crushed me and I had doubts. But when I came back home to Cincinnati, people lifted my spirits and kept my head up.
When I won the belt, it was uplifting and took a big chip off my shoulder. So even though I didn’t get that Olympic medal to put around my mom’s neck, I won a championship belt she can wear around her waist. Now I can tell people, when you have a dream, and you don’t initially fulfill it, just look at me.
What is your favorite movie?
Avengers Infinity War. That movie lets you know that even though you might expect the good guys to win every time, they don’t always. Iron Man and Dr. Strange kept arguing, but you know, Iron Man’s got to break his ego down a little bit.
What is one thing in the world you would change were it in your power to do so?
If I had the power to change anything, I wish I had the power to make everybody look at one another equally. If everyone were to look at each other equally, then everything would balance out and I don’t feel like there would be any issues.
For a closer look at Warren vs Oubaali, check out our fight page.