Cuba gets closer to professional boxing

Source:Xinhua Published: 2013-4-29 10:08:56

Cuba will permit its boxers to participate in the 4th World Series of Boxing (WSB) to be held from November 15 until May, 2014, allowing them to earn some profits without losing their amateur condition, Alberto Puig, president of the island' s national federation, said Sunday.

Puig said the decision was aimed to better prepare the local boxers and let them know their rivals in each division, in order to defeat them in the most important Olympic and world contests.

WBS is sponsored by the International Federation of Amateur Boxing (AIBA) and includes the participation of 12 multinational selections, divided in two groups, and admits the participation of professional boxers with less than 15 fights in their career.

This Series has five divisions, which are not the same ones used by the AIBA for its remaining competitions: 54, 61, 73, 85 and over 91 kilograms. Puig said that these divisions could be extended to 10.

The event has very similar rules to the ones applied at the Olympic Boxing and grants 30 tickets for 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games.

The difference is that fights are divided in 5 rounds, instead of 3, and the participants will contend for the first time in three decades without head protection. The score is similar to professional boxing (10 points to the winner of the round, the loser 9, or even less if the difference is large). The winners advance to the next stage.

On the other hand, the participant boxers at the WSB receive a monthly salary of 1,000 to 3,000 US dollars, plus a premium of 500 to 2000 dollars, depending on the obtained results.

Cuba eliminated professional sports in 1961. Many analysts explained boxing' s fall was due to the defections of great champions who wanted to prove themselves in the rented boxing.

Among those champions is Guillermo Rigondeaux, two-time bantamweight Olympic gold, who fled from the island in 2009 and now is the professional super bantamweight world champion, and Yuriorkis Gamboa, flyweight Olympic title, and professional featherweight world champion in 2010.

Cuban elite athletes earn a monthly salary equivalent to some 20 dollars, and both world and Olympic medalists receive a stipend from 50 to a maximum of 300 dollars at least, depending on their best life results.

Participating at the WSB has raised expectation among the islands athelets.

"It motivates me a lot. It is something new, a challenge. I would like to participate and show the world what I am, what Cuban boxing really is, our level," said Lazaro Alvarez, feather-weight world amateur champion.

Baseball is the most popular sport in the Caribbean island, but boxing is the discipline that has brought more medals from Olympics and World events since 1972, with 116 world and 67 Olympic awards.

The climax was in Barcelona 1992 when the national team brought home 11 gold medals hanging around their necks.

But after winning four medals in Athens 2004, Cuba did not reach the podium in Beijing 2008, and won only two gold awards in London 2012.

Boxing is considered by Cuban sports authorities as the flagship of the island' s sports, thus currently boxing authorities are multiplying the initiatives to provide a new impulse to the discipline, by lowering the starting age to nine-years-old and increasing district tournaments.

The first boxing fight was held in Cuba in 1912 and over the years boxers from the island became world professional champions as Kid Chocolate, Kid Gavilan, Butter Naples, Saguero Lightning, Tunero Kid, the Valdes Boy and many others.

Concerning to the amateur sport, the Caribbean country has given great boxing legends like the deceased Teofilo Stevenson, and Felix Savon, both of them three times Olympic and world champions. Cuba gets closer to professional boxing.

Posted in: Miscellany, Boxing

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