Top boxing nation, Cuba will begin this important year at the upcoming Bocskai Memorial Tournament in Debrecen, Hungary. Next week the Cuban squad will be travelling to Europe with high expectations as they begin their active preparation for the season as they gear up towards the London 2012 Olympic Games this summer. After Hungary, the next stop will be fighting for more prizes at the Strandja Tournament in Bulgaria.
The Caribbean team achieved two gold medals at the AIBA World Boxing Championships in Baku and secured a runner-up position in that record breaking event. Most of their young athletes can focus on the Olympic Games with seven boxers having achieved their qualification for London in 2011.
The two magnificent Cuban boxers who reached the top of the podium in Baku were 20-year-old Bantamweight Lazaro Alvarez and team captain Julio Cesar De La Cruz, who will both be involved with the travelling team and will be fighting for gold medals in Hungary. The Cuban Light Heavyweight star will want to extract revenge on Russia's Nikita Ivanov in Debrecen after unexpectedly losing to him in the event's last edition.
Cuba's top Light Flyweight boxer Yosvany Veitia also secured his ticket for London and acquired a silver medal at the Panamerican Games in Guadalajara in October. The country's big talent is Youth Olympic Games winner Robeisy Ramirez who only turned 18 at the end of last year. The flyweight teenager has got gold medal expectations not only in Debrecen but for London as well.
Cuba's Lightweight No.1 Yasnier Toledo claimed the silver medal at the AIBA World Boxing Championships in Baku and was only stopped by Ukrainian superpower Vasyl Lomachenko. Toledo has got great footwork and lightning quick combination punches so is definitely one of the biggest favourite in his division this year.
There were some great battles between two Cuban heavyweight fighters, AIBA World Championships bronze medallist Jose Angel Larduet and Youth Olympic Games winner Leinier Perot for the right to represent the Caribbean country in the first qualification event in Baku. It was Larduet who triumphed and got the opportunity to showcase his skills on the biggest stage of all, he also secured his quota place for London in the process. The 22-year-old former AIBA Youth World Champion was also added this year to the European travelling team.
Cuba's best Super Heavyweight boxer, former AIBA Youth World Champion Erislandy Savon advanced to the last eight at the AIBA World Championships in Baku and also secured the right to fight at the London Olympic Games. The 22-year-old star claimed the gold medal at the Bocskai Memorial Tournament last year so will be looking to defend his title.
There are three weight classes in which Cuban boxers still need to book their Olympic quota places and these will be fought for at the forthcoming AIBA American Olympic Qualifying Event to be held in Rio, Brazil in May.
In Hungary, look out for former AIBA World Champion Roniel Iglesias, Beijing Olympic Games silver medallist Carlos Banteur and Emilio Correa who are all Bocskai Memorial Tournament titleholders. All of them are in good form and will be looking to start the year on a high.
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