Former 118-pound champion embraces the ups and downs of winning and losing a world title, but says now after dropping to 115 pounds he's at the perfect place to win back a belt—or two, in multiple weight classes.
The ups and downs of professional boxing, no fighter today knows this better than Rau’shee Warren. And the former WBA bantamweight champion loves every minute of his experience.
But the ups and downs Warren has experienced thus far aren’t limited to wins and losses, but also with gaining and cutting weight. After claiming the bantamweight title in June 2016, the 31-year-old Cincinnati native relinquished the belt less than a year later via disputed split decision to Zhanat Zhakiyanov.
Within a year, Warren had experienced the sweet taste of becoming a world champion and the bitterness of being dethroned. After such a huge letdown in his initial title defense, it would have been understandable if he’d taken time away from the ring to regroup.
But that’s not the Warren way. There was no need to regroup, his fighting skills were never an issue—the accurate punching, solid footwork and superb defense hadn’t failed him. He needed to find the appropriate weight class in which to compete at his best.
It didn’t take long for Warren to find a perfect new home. Five months after losing his 118-pound belt, Warren was back in the ring putting on arguably his best performance as a professional. This time, however, he was competing at 115 pounds.
The speed and accuracy of his punches was on point in during his junior bantamweight debut in July 2017 against McJoe Arroyo at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. So impressive was Warren’s performance that there was no suspense as to the outcome—a lopsided unanimous decision.
“I felt so good at 115 that I actually weighed in at 113,” Warren said. “I had lost to McJoe in the amateurs, so I got him back. I truly feel as if I can dominate this weight class.”
To erase any doubt that his debut performance at junior bantamweight wasn’t a fluke, Warren was more dominant in his second outing. He overwhelmed Juan Gabriel Medina in an eight-rounder April 21 en route to another lopsided unanimous decision— improving to 16-2 with 4 knockouts.
For Rau’Shee Warren going down in weight feels and looks wonderful. And there isn’t the slightest doubt in Warren’s mind that another world title is in his not-too-distant future.
“ There aren’t many American boxers down in these weights, so I’m trying to be the next one to do that and to go beyond that as well. ” Former Bantamweight World Champion Rau’shee Warren
Warren is inspired by former two-division titleholder Mark “Too Sharp” Johnson, of Washington, D.C. The 2012 International Boxing Hall of Fame Inductee, who became the first African-American to win titles at 112- and 115-pounds before retiring in February 2006.
“Too Sharp’s accomplishments are definitely something I’m shooting for,” said Warren, who returned to Barry Hunter’s Headbangers Gym in Washington, D.C., for his fourth straight training camp.
“There aren’t many American boxers down in these weights, so I’m trying to be the next one to do that and to go beyond that as well. I’m trying to grab a title at 115, then go down to 112 for another one, and then, back up to 118 for a third one.”
To kick-start his title goals, Warren has his mind set on first dethroning IBF 115-pound champion Jerwin Ancajas. Ranked No. 2 by the IBF, Warren is certain he will claim the vacant top contender spot.
And when he gets the call for a 115-pound title bout Warren intends to immediately accept. From there it’s a matter of time until he places that world championship belt around his waist.
“I’m just waiting in line for a title shot,” Warren said. “Once I get there, I’m going to bring it, making the guy pay dearly for any mistakes.”
In addition to feeling better at 115 pounds, Warren’s skills are on an upward trajectory. He’s fine-tuned his approach inside the ring, which has made him a much more dangerous fighter. And he’s less predictable.
“Since developing a better jab, I’m no longer just an exciting fighter throwing a lot of punches. I’m seeing things much better than in the past,” Warren said.
“I’m feeling more powerful and everything’s coming easier. I’m ready to go toe-to-toe as well as box. I’m a much better all-around fighter at 115.”
Those ups and downs. In the case of Rau’Shee Warren, going down in weight, is proving to be a huge gain. And yes, reclaiming a 118-pound title remains in his plans—that’s the upside.
For a closer look at Rau’shee Warren, check out his fighter page.