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Cuba's Return to Pro Boxing: Just a Ripple in a Big Pond


PhilBoxing.com




After decades of banning it's boxers from engaging in professional boxing which it once derided as "decadent capitalist pastime", Cuba recently created a stir by announcing that it is now allowing its fighters to participate in prizefighting.

It is driven by both practical and economic as well as political considerations taking cognizance of the International Olympic Committee's allowing amateur boxers to fight professionally without losing their amateur status and eligibility, the ability of pro boxing to raise revenue for the national coffers and the need to stop ace Cuban boxers' defections to fight professionally in the West.

An agreement was reached by the Federacion Cubano de Boxeo (FCB) to allow pro boxing for the first time in sixty years. The historic decision was made public on Monday, with the intention of allowing its most notable amateur stars to turn pro as early as May in Aguascalientes, Mexico where its boxers have regularly trained since last summer.

Boxers fighting in the pro ranks out of Cuba will be represented by Golden Ring Promotions. The intention is to stage at least four events through the rest of the year, as first reported by ESPN Deportes' Salvador 'Chava' Rodriguez who revealed that the series will air on ESPN Knockout.

Among those expected to turn pro in the coming months include the nation’s most recent Olympic medalists Lazaro Alvarez, Andy Cruz, Roniel Iglesias, Julio Cesar La Cruz and Arlen Lopez.

Three and a half years ago a serious analysis began that has resulted in the approved agreement and well seen by the direction of the country's sport and the Cuban Boxing Federation with Golden Ring Promotions, for the representation of Cuba in its entry into professional boxing," Alberto Puig, president of the FCB said in a statement provided to BoxingScene.com. "The continuous sports and competitive preparation of Cuban boxers to continue representing and raising the name of Cuban boxing in all competitions where it forms part and the economic benefit it represents for boxers, coaching staff and medical triad that work with the team, are one of the main objectives.”

Milestone as it has been hailed, Cuba's return to pro boxing can be likened only to a ripple in a big pond, a lake even which is the extent and expanse of international prizefighting currently despite the pandemic.

Cuba could be the biggest power in amateur boxing which is even open to question with the rise of major players as Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan but pro boxing is an entirely different stage.

Alvarez, La Cruz, Iglesias and Lopez are Olympic gold medalists not just once but how long or fast could they progress in the pro ranks given their current age?

Most of them would also be competing in weight classes populated not only by very good but extremely tough American, Latin, European and former Soviet bloc fighters the likes of Beterbiev, Canelo, Charlo and GGG.

Andy Cruz is at lightweight which is now one of the most talented divisions with the likes of Kambosos, Teo Lopez, Ryan Garcia and Loma.

Of course, we have and have had outstanding Cuban fighters who had translated their successes in the amateurs to the pros, even winning world titles after a while but they did not last. The latest are Guillermo Rigondeax and Yuriorkis Gamboa.

The remaining Cuban world champion Yordenis Ugas will be up against Errol Spence this month and odds are he will lose his WBA super belt.

As an aside regarding Ugas (vis a vis Manny Pacquiao) and also Rigondeaux (vs Casimero), were they part of the process to clinch the deal to allow Cuba's re-entry to pro boxing? Just curious at the sudden preferential treatments they got from the WBA and WBO as promoted super titlist and mandatory challenger, respectively last year.

Stranger things happen in pro boxing, you know.

The author Teodoro Medina Reynoso is a veteran boxing radio talk show host living in the Philippines. He can be reached at teddyreynoso@yahoo.com and by phone 09215309477.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Teodoro Medina Reynoso.


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