Cuba explodes onto the pro-style boxing scene with an emphatic win in the World Series of Boxing (WSB) over the Mexico Guerreros in Mexico City.
In a highly anticipated exhibition match, Cuban boxers made their first officially sanctioned pro-style match in more than fifty years on Thursday and Friday this week against fellow Latin American powerhouse team, the Mexico Guerreros.
Having adopted a team name of the “Domadores” (Tamers), the Cubans certainly proved themselves worthy of the moniker. Their rivals, the Mexico Guerreros are no push-over team. Semi-finalists in the last season of the WSB, with three years of experience in the tournament and an outstanding home record this should have been a tighter affair than it actually was.
That said, given that the host side were already trailing 3-2 from the first day’s action, the Guerreros bounced back well in the opening bout of Day 2. Mexican talisman “Marvellous” Marvin Cabrera showed why he is the current WSB number one ranked Welterweight (69kg) when he defeated Cuba’s inexperienced Luis Oliva to level the scores. This took Cabrera to eight straight wins in the WSB, though Oliva deserves credit for making the fight much closer than it should have been on paper.
That was the end of the good news for the hosts however, as the Domadores’ Lightweight (60kg) Ivan the “Terrible” Oñate resumed business as usual for Cuba. Lindolfo Delgado his Mexican opponent was also making his WSB debut as the Guerreros made use of the pre-season match to blood this up-and-coming boxer, prior to the start of the season proper. The close final score of 47:48 from all three judges (from Argentina, Canada and Ireland) indicates that the bout by no means consisted of one way traffic, which may be of some consolation to the Guerreros as they look to the future.
The Heavyweight (91kg) bout between former World Junior Champion Erislandy Savon for the Domadores and 21 year old Farrukh Karimov from Uzbekistan proved to be the most exciting of the night. Farrukh who recently moved down from Super Heavyweight showed extraordinary power, but so too did Savon, with both boxers really going for it from the first bell. Savon was knocked down in round one by an incredible left hook from Karimov and was down again shortly afterwards. Very much saved by the bell the Cuban recuperated quickly in his corner though and landed a left of his own to floor the Guerreros boxer just six seconds into round two. The Uzbek boxer was back down twice more within the next minute and the referee had no choice but to stop the match early in round two.
In the evening’s final bouts Cuba closed the deal with Super Heavyweight (91+kg) Jose Larduet who defeated Mohammed Arjaoui fairly comfortably and Light Heavyweight (81kg) Julio de la Cruz who out-pointed Guerreros’ boxer Muñoz Isaac 10:9 in all five rounds.
Cuba’s Group B rivals for the upcoming season (Mexico Guerreros, Astana Arlans Kazakhstan, Russia and Hussars Poland) will now need to think how to combat a team that seems to have lived up to the hype. The result will also heap more pressure on Russia to unleash the deadly Sborna (elite national team) or risk embarrassment in this year’s tournament. Russia was the dominant team in this year’s European Continental event, and many experts feel that they have the power to tip the group one way or another. In the past however they have shown some reluctance to send their first pick boxers to the WSB, but now placed in a group with defending Champions Kazakhstan, and having observed Cuba’s demolition of Season III semi-finalists the Mexico Guerreros they will surely be under pressure to do so. All this should make for an incredible Season IV, which will kick off in November.