It was a big night in Havana for the Cuba Domadores last night as they dominated the first of our Super-Saturday derby matches in Group B. After having been roughed up in recent weeks, the Domadores were back to looking invincible again against the aggressive Mexico Guerreros team.
Today we had the pleasure of watching the Flyweights (52kg), Lightweights (60kg), Welterweights (69kg), Light Heavyweights (81kg) and Super Heavyweights (91+kg).
Bout of the match
At Lightweight, Lazaro Alvarez,the current World Champion, went up against Raul Curiel. Obviously, taking on a double World Champion, Pan American Gold Medallist and a London 2012 Olympic Bronze medallist – whose nickname is “the Prince” – on your first outing in the WSB, might not be considered ideal. It certainly was a trial by fire for the young Mexican, but whilst it would be easy to wax-lyrical about the 22 year old Cuban phenomenon’s boxing, it is also worth noting the bravery of the Guerrero, who didn’t make it easy for his more experienced opponent. Technically speaking it was the closest bout of the evening on the judges’ scorecards and it was a wonderful bout to watch. Curiel deserves to have his WSB record of 0-1 overlooked by fans and pundits when he makes his next appearance after that performance.
Boxer of the match
Welterweight Roniel Iglesias Sotolongo,the 2009 World Champion and Olympic Champion from the London Games (after taking Bronze in Beijing), made his long awaited WSB debutagainst Hector Reyes. Reyes also turned out for the first time in the WSB today and like Curiel, he must have had one of the most demanding debuts on record. Unlike his compatriot however, he was unable to get through the full five rounds with the southpaw Cuban and he failed to come out for the final round. Sotolongo meanwhile looked majestic in the ring. Leading with his right hand low to invite the counter-punch set-up, he was also able to snap in long range lead hooks and jabs with astonishing speed. This was a world class performance from a boxer who may well be re-finding his best form.
The turning point
Light Heavyweight Emmanuel Reyes made his WSB debut in unfortunate circumstances as a replacement for Julio La Cruz who was shot in a roadside robbery earlier in the month. Having had surgery to remove a bullet form his hip, La Cruz is now making a recovery. Reyes seemed to be a competent replacement however with a notable jab. Petru Ciobanu,his Guerreros opponent, was unable to make a significant impact on the bout on what was his WSB debut. He does however deserve credit for hanging tough against a skilled opponent. The Moldovan Guerreros boxer was certainly game but the counter-punching Cuban’s craft and guile was simply too much for him in the end. Reyes’ win ensured that the Cubans would be keeping all three points in Havana this weekend.
Fact/Stat of the match
Their victory today meant that the Cubans have now only lost four bouts in 30 in the WSB so far. We will have to trawl the archives to see if they are now on for some sort of record.
Flyweights Gerardo Cervantes of Cuba and Orlando Huitzil opened the evening with a high paced affair with the two orthodox boxers very explosive in their styles. Huitzil did show the classic Guerrero spirit, relentlessly trying to defeat his opponent despite the odds increasingly being stacked against him. But in the end, the better work came from Cervantes.
Super Heavyweights Jose Larduet and Gerardo Bisbal took to the ring in the final bout of the evening, with both men starting surprisingly quickly. Bisbal had only lost twice before in eight WSB matches and was the most experienced member of the Guerreros team in Havana, but he was unable to deal with Larduet’s pace. It was an important win for the Cuban, who was one of the few, if not the only member of the team with a negative record. This he has now remedied as he goes 1-1 in the WSB.
Coming up next
The Domadores have a home match against the Hussars Poland, in which we would expect to see them using some of their second pick boxers to rest their top team. That said they do not have much depth to their team, which could be there one weakness as the season wears on. The Guerreros will have a crunch home tie against the Azerbaijan Baku Fires: a must win affair for the Mexicans.
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