No rest bite for Cuban squad


de la Cruz on way to gold medal glory in Baku (Photo: AIBA)

The Cuban squad did not have any time to relax and celebrate after coming home from their magnificent showing at the AIBA World Championships in Baku, performances that yielded two gold medals and seven quota places for the country. The Caribbean nation's boxing squad will now be participating at the Panamerican Games in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Starting on 21 October, the Cuban team will present ten male athletes at the event with only one change to the team that competed at the AIBA World Boxing Championships, with the introduction of defending Youth Olympic Games winner Luis Eunice Perot in place of Jose Angel Larduet in the Heavyweight category.

Their Light Flyweight boxer is 19-year-old AIBA Youth World Championships bronze medallist Yosvany Veitia, who surprisingly eliminated Kazakhstan's Birzhan Zhakipov in his opening contest in Baku with the Cuban teenager later securing his ticket for London by advancing to the Top8.

The youngest team member is reigning AIBA Youth World Champion and Youth Olympic Games winner Robeisy Ramirez who will be celebrating his 18th birthday only in December. At the AIBA World Boxing Championships in Baku he was defeated by eventual winner Misha Aloyan of Russia but also secured his ticket to the London 2012 Olympic Games becoming the youngest boxer of all qualified athletes.

One of Cuba's secret weapons, 20-year-old Lazaro Alvarez who claimed the gold medal in the Bantamweight category in Baku after defeating England's Luke Campbell in a closely fought battle, has also got a good chance in Guadalajara. His main opponent will be Mexico's AIBA World Championships bronze medallist Oscar Valdez and Puerto Rico's up-and-coming Felix Verdejo.

22-year-old former AIBA Cadet World Champion Yasnier Toledo eliminated his top rivals in Baku and advanced to the Lightweight final of the AIBA World Boxing Championships where he was eventually defeated by Ukrainian powerhouse Vasyl Lomachenko. Toledo now has every chance of reaching the top of the podium in Mexico.

Despite Roniel Iglesias travelling to Baku as defending champion, he was not at his best and was eliminated early by eventual silver medallist Denys Berinchyk of Ukraine, thus returning to Cuba empty handed. The gifted Light Welterweight boxer now has a platform to redeem himself and his excellent technique has to put him down as the category's top contender.

Beijing Olympic Games silver medallist, 25-year-old Carlos Banteur has suffered several unexpected losses since his exploits in 2008 and fared no better after an early defeat at the AIBA World Boxing Championships in Baku. Following his win in the opening contest he was then defeated by eventual winner Taras Shelestyuk of Ukraine.

26-year-old Emilio Correa, also silver medallist at the Beijing Olympic Games, is the most experienced boxer in the team but his loss in Baku to Romania's Bogdan Juratoni in the last 16 was unexpected and he will now want to prove in Guadalajara that he is still the continent's best Middleweight boxer.

Team captain Julio Cesar De La Cruz became the second Cuban gold medallist at the AIBA World Championships after Alvarez. The Light Heavyweight boxer defeated titleholder Egor Mekhontsev of Russia in the semi-finals showing sublime skills to then take the gold medal after overwhelming Kazakhstan's Adilbek Niyazymbetov.

Cuba's Super Heavyweight competitor in Guadalajara will be 21-year-old former AIBA Youth World Champion Erislandy Savon who secured his Olympic qualification in Baku.

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