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Teen fighter faces Warren for US flyweight title

Updated: July 16, 2010, 14:37

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.(AP) Teenage boxer Miguel Cartagena figures he can't lose.

Facing headliner Rau'shee Warren in the 114-pound title bout Saturday night at the U.S. national boxing championships, Cartagena knows he's a long shot.

All the better.

"If I win, that's something crazy. Now I become the hit star,'' said Cartagena, an 18-year-old from Philadelphia. "If I lose, it's still a win, because look at who you lost to - a two-time Olympian.''

Warren has redemption on his mind after getting upset in last year's semifinals, losing the bout on a tiebreaker and storming out of the ring.

This time, Warren is so determined to win back his crown that he's focused only on his game and not any of his opponents.

"I know they're coming for me,'' Warren said. "It takes a champion to beat a champion.''

Warren's bout is one of 10 men's titles that will be contested Saturday night at the Crowne Plaza Hotel ballroom, along with three Olympic-class women's bouts.

Louie Byrd is a two-time defending champ at 112 pounds, but with the smaller classes being reconfigured, he'll fight Diego Hurtado in the new 108-pound division.

"I think it's a little bit more pressure,'' Byrd said. "He knows what I've done, so obviously he's working harder than he would have, I'm sure.''

The same can be said of Cartagena, who knows all about Warren and his reputation as the boxer who spurned a chance to go pro so he could try to become the first three-time Olympic boxer in U.S. history.

"You know he's good, you know what he's about,'' said Cartagena, who won nationals at 106 pounds last summer. "Everybody is going to root for him. Go give it all you got and see what happens.''

That's Warren's approach as well, especially after what transpired last year.

A three-time national champion, Warren lost a close decision to teenager Jesus Magdaleno in the semifinals, prompting Warren to bolt out of the ring and later say, "I won the fight fair and square.''

He won't leave anything to chance in the finals, pledging to take care of business inside the ring.

"As long as me and my coaches in the corner got a good strategy, we should come out with a 'W' every time,'' the 23-year-old Warren said. "I look at it as everybody out there, they're shooting for me.''

There are other intriguing plot lines Saturday, including:

- Sacred Downing of Trenton, N.J., going for her seventh straight national title when she faces Lauren Fisher at 119 pounds.

- Lenroy Thompson, clad in his pink trunks to support breast cancer awareness, attempting to knock off Danny Kelly and regain the super heavyweight title he won in 2008.

- Marlen Esparza of Houston trying to move up to 112 pounds - one of three weight divisions for female boxers at the 2012 London Olympics - and maintain her dominance. Esparza is a four-time national champ at 106 pounds.

Another big bout Saturday will be the showdown between Patricia Manuel and Queen Underwood.

Manuel is the reigning champion at 132 pounds, while Underwood drops down from 141 after ruling that division. The 132-pound bracket figures to be hotly contested in the months leading up to London because it's another Olympic weight division.

"So stacked, so many names to look at,'' Manuel said. "If I'm 100 percent and training as well as I am, I don't think anyone in the world can beat me.''


AP Sports Writer Arnie Stapleton contributed to this report.

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