The Cuban Boxing Federation boasts two renowned international events in their calendar, and their first, the Giraldo Cordova Cardin Memorial Tournament has recently finished in Havana.
Besides an incredible six gold medals for the home nation, China and Ecuador both celebrated gold successes in the prestigious event.
Athlete of the tournament
Cuba’s youngest team member in their squad is Yoandry Toirac, a two-time National Champion at just 19 years old.
The youngster already has major international experience, as he competed at both the 2012 AIBA Youth World Championships in Yerevan, and at the 2013 AIBA World Boxing Championships in Almaty as well.
Toirac had an impressive showing in Havana, as he defeated his teammate Yosbel Fabre in the semi-final, following his quick opening victory in the quarter-final.
The Cuban should have met China’s Super Heavyweight class (+91 kg) boxer Gu Guangming in the final, but the Chinese boxer did not compete in the final against the strong Cuban hope, whose gold medal will set him up nicely for the rest of the year.
Team of the tournament
Cuba claimed six gold medals in their home tournament, despite the absence of some of their best boxers who had successfully competed in the World Series of Boxing Finals in Baku.
Many of their winners in this tournament therefore were from the younger members of their squad, who showcased their dazzling potential.
Norlan Yera won a silver medal at the 2010 AIBA Youth World Championships in Baku, and also competed for Cuba Domadores in the fourth season of the World Series of Boxing.
Yera’s skills were evident in the Giraldo Cordova Cardin Memorial Tournament, as he defeated China’s Bocskai Memorial Tournament winner Zhang Jiawei in the final of the Bantamweight class (56 kg).
Armando Martinez is a newcomer to the elite level having only joined the squad this year, but won his first title in Havana after beating China’s Wang Lei at the Lightweight class (60 kg).
AIBA Youth World Championships competitor Luis Oliva, former Youth National Champion Frank Sanchez, veteran Emilio Correa and Yoandry Toirac also won gold medals for Cuba in the tournament.
Surprise of the tournament
Chile’s Daniel Munoz has always been known as one of the best boxers from his developing boxing nation, but the Welterweight class (69 kg) has struggled a little in the past in getting to the closing stages of competitions.
The skills of Munoz are very well developed, and he displayed his obvious potential in Havana, to the surprise of some onlookers.
Munoz defeated Venezuela’s Kleiber Gonzalez, Ecuador’s London 2012 Olympian Carlos Sanchez, and stopped Morocco’s strong Mohamed Rabii en route to the gold medal bout.
Although Munoz lost his final to China’s Liu Wei, his overall tournament was one of great success, and could be a catalyst for his future career.
One to watch in the future
Cuba’s Beijing 2008 Olympic Games silver medallist Emilio Correa is back on track after his two year break at international level.
The 28-year-old boxer defeated Cuba’s Arlen Lopez, who was a member of the Season IV winning Cuba Domadores World Series of Boxing team in the semi-finals, which advanced him towards the gold medal bout.
His final opponent, Venezuela’s London 2012 Olympian Juan Carlos Rodriguez had a small injury after his semi-final, which resulted in Correa winning the gold medal via walkover.
Stat/fact of the tournament
Trinidad & Tobago’s Michael Alexander was able to win two bouts and finally achieved a bronze in Havana for his country.
Boxing is a new sport in Suriname, and the nation competed in only one international event in 2013, but they sent representation to the Giraldo Cordova Cardin Memorial Tournament.
Morocco also sent their newly built national squad to Havana, with two of their team claiming a medal in the event.
Gold medal winners at the Grand Prix Usti nad Labem
49 kg: Carlos Quipo, Ecuador
52 kg: Chang Yong, China
56 kg: Norlan Yera, Cuba
60 kg: Armando Martinez, Cuba
64 kg: Luis Oliva, Cuba
69 kg: Liu Wei, China
75 kg: Emilio Correa, Cuba
81 kg: Carlos Gongora, Ecuador
91 kg: Frank Sanchez, Cuba
+91 kg: Yoandry Toirac, Cuba