ATHENS- Toledoan Devin Vargas got some good news in the Olympic boxing tournament draw yesterday.
The 283 fighters in 11 weight classes were randomly paired in the draw, which produced at least one outstanding early matchup: Heavyweights Alexandre Alekseev of Russia and Odlanier Solis of Cuba will meet Wednesday in a rematch of last year's World Championships final, won 18-15 by Solis.
Alekseev and Solis both are strong medal favorites - good news for American heavyweight Vargas.
Vargas will fight Morocco's Rachid El Haddak in the first round.
Middleweight Andre Dirrell will meet China's Ha Dabateer in the second match of the Olympic boxing tournament, according to the draw announced yesterday.
Dirrell, a well-regarded fighter from Flint, Mich., will be the only American in action at the Peristeri Olympic Boxing Hall when competition begins today. Light heavyweight Andre Ward, another top medal prospect, drew a first-round bye.
Ward caught a break when Russia's Evgeny Makarenko was paired with Cuba's Yoan Pablo Hernandez in the second round Thursday. Makarenko and Ward are considered the world's top amateur light heavyweights, with Hernandez not far behind.
Rau'Shee Warren, the United States' 17-year-old light flyweight, will meet medal favorite Zou Shiming of China on Wednesday, while super heavyweight Jason Estrada will face Ma'afu Hawke of Tonga.
American lightweight Vicente Escobedo will meet Colombia's Jose David Mosquera on Monday, and flyweight Ron Siler will face Bradley Hore on Tuesday. Light welterweight Rock Allen of Philadelphia also received a first-round bye. American welterweight Vanes Martirosyan will face Algeria's Benamar Meskine tomorrow.
Light flyweight Najah Ali of Iraq, who trained with the U.S. team, will fight North Korea's Hyok Ju Kwak on Wednesday.