Rau’shee Warren (14-1) got his revenge on Juan Carlos Payano (17-1), and he captured his first world title by winning a majority decision at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago.
In his second attempt at a title and the rugged Dominican, Warren took Payano’s WBA Super World bantamweight title. The judges scored the fight 114-114 and 115-113 twice.
It was an action-packed brawl from beginning to end with both men having their moments.
Warren repeatedly used his superior quick-twitch athleticism to counter Payano with hard right hands. While Payano was the man coming forward through most of the early and middle rounds, he was not landing the clean and hard shots. Warren landed all of the wow punches in the fight.
The 29-year-old from Cincinnati, Ohio, was slippery and difficult to hit, but his lack of punching power couldn’t stop Payano from closing the distance through 10 rounds.
However, in the 11th, Warren connected with a dazzling right hand that clearly hurt Payano.
The 32-year-old retreated to the corner and Warren did his best to take the judges out of the equation.
In his haste, he smothered a lot of his shots by getting too close to Payano in the corner. Nonetheless, he appeared to seal the deal with the one-sided flurry.
In the final round, Warren fought as if he’d won the fight, and that approach almost came back to burn him. One judge scored the fight a draw, and the other two only felt Warren deserved a two-point advantage.
The two men have proven to be a tough pair to judge.
Payano landed a total of 162 punches, while Warren landed just 160. However, Warren landed 31 percent of the 514 punches he threw. Payano launched 882, but only connected on 18.4 percent of the shots.
When they met in August 2015, Payano won a controversial split decision. One judge in that fight gave Warren a 115-109 edge, while the other two saw it for Payano 113-111.
After the first judge’s card was read, there was a bit of nervousness that went over the pro-Warren crowd, but the former Olympian ultimately heard the words he’d been waiting to hear for more than a year…“and the new!!”
After the win, Warren told reporters, “This feels great. It’s unbelievable. Payano came to put on a great fight but I came out victorious. It was a good fight. If he wants the rematch, we can do it again.
“I was comfortable that I had won the decision. He came to fight and he stayed active. My corner just told me I had to answer back.”
Payano implied an injury hampered his performance, but he wants a rematch.
“I wasn’t able to completely follow my game plan,” he said. “At moments I was able to do what we trained for, but not enough. I hurt my rib early in the first two rounds and it made it difficult to grab and breathe. I take nothing away from him.
“I was courteous enough to offer the rematch right away and I hope that I get reciprocated the same way.”
With both men apparently willing to face each other again, a third fight seems to be in order. Neither man has definitively defeated the other in the previous two bouts.
It wouldn’t be a shock to see a rubber match signed fairly quickly.
This article was penned by the author who is not related to the WBA and the statements, expressions or opinions referenced herein are that of the author alone and not the WBA.