With only eight days left before the World Series of Boxing (WSB) Exhibition Match between the Mexico Guerreros and the Cuba Domadores, we interview the 2011 World Champion and current no 3 Light Heavyweight (81kg) in the World, Julio César la Cruz (CUB).
You are a World Champion representing Cuba where almost every citizen is passionate about boxing. How being a Champion affects your daily life in Cuba?
The World Champion status obliges me to work harder every day, to be a better person and to be a good example as a citizen.
In a recent interview with CNN you stated that Cubans have boxing in their heart and blood. What is so special about boxing that Cubans are so passionate about?
We love boxing because it gives us a great joy watching such competitive performance. Boxers who overcame the hardship and became Champions are such inspirations to us, they are our idols. All boxers are loved by Cubans.
On the 30th of August, for the first time in your life, you will fight in pro style boxing representing the Cuba Domadores in that WSB Exhibition Match. What are your thoughts and emotions about this fight?
I am very excited about the opportunity to represent Cuba at such high level, and I am ready to prove my boxing skills against any opponent.
You said that Cuban fight always by attacking. What is your strategy for your first ever pro fight?
My strategy will be the same, follow the directions of my coaches, follow the plan, be confident that the preparation was good and will guarantee a good result.
What are your expectations about the WSB and what is the most exciting aspect of this competition?
The WSB is a great competition; it brings together the best fighters in the world. I will face it as a new challenge with tremendous excitement to deliver a great show to our fans.
How do you feel about the team format of the WSB and being one of the Domadores?
It is true that boxing is an individual sport and this innovative format increases the importance of teamwork. It is a great honour to be part of the Domadores and I will give my all to get good results.
Tell us about your training as you prepare for this first fight.
The key is to do a systematic preparation and to do it with focus and dedication following the program designed by the coaches. We have two daily sessions of hard work, starting early in the morning and training until late afternoon. I live in the training centre all year round, but I also take some time to study.
What is your favourite part of the training?
Long distance running.
What is more important: physical or mental preparation?
Both are equally important to me.
Do you remember how you felt the first time you stepped into the ring? How old were you?
I was just nine years old and since then, boxing has become my entire life.
Do you think you will box for the rest of your life then?
My family and boxing are the centre of my life. So I have never thought of leaving it.
Out of all the current and past boxers in the world, who would you like to face in the ring?
The names are not important, I always want to fight the best to test my level in the ring, whoever they are.
What do you enjoy doing outside boxing?
I have a normal life, in spare time I enjoy walking, reading, listening to music…
What is the song that motivates you and gives you a great energy?
The song “El oro es mío” by Cuban singer Jorgito Hernández, AKA Jorge Jr.