Five Cuban Boxing Prospects to be Followed
Five Cuban Boxing Prospects to be Followed
Specialists and fans have named it “Cuban boxing school” and it has been acclaimed at international level. When listening to this name, people might think that it is a sort of pugilist training center, where future champions are trained in state-of-the-art gyms. That’s far from reality. It is actually a concept, a way of understanding and learning how to box, which was created by Professor Alcides Sagarra and has been improved over the years. This work methodology has had excellent results that are not only expressed by the number of medals won by Cuban fighters in different international events, but also in the creation of a unique moving and punching style without being hit on the ring.
Boxing is the sport that has given Cuba the highest number of medals in Olympic Games and world championships. Thirty-seven titles have been conquered in Olympic events, with special roles played by Teofilo Stevenson and Felix Savon, two triple champions. Over the past two decades, several Cuban boxers decided to join the professionalism realm; nevertheless, the work carried out by coaches down in the base allowed them to identify new talents that, after adopting the essence of the “Cuban boxing school”, have held the high level of the national team. According to Sagarra, “it’s not about an isolated phenomenon related to the search of talents or the creation of laboratory athletes. It is a harmonic work that involves the country’s teaching system.”
Who are the main boxing prospects in Cuba? PanamericanWorld identified five pugilists that have great potential and have already obtained significant results in their country and international events.
Andy Cruz (64 kilograms)
He is only 22 years old and he is going to be one of Cuba’s main hopes in Tokyo’s Olympic Games, in 2020. His name made headlines in the boxing universe when he was proclaimed world champion in the event hosted by Armenia. He later amazed everybody with his Pan American title obtained in Toronto Games, in 2015, 56 kilograms. The technicians decided to take him two divisions up and in the Hamburg World Championship, in 2017, he fought in the 64-kilogram category. He caught everybody’s eyes in that event by easily prevailing over his rivals.
“Some people thought that it was an abrupt change and my performance would not be the same. I always said that weight has nothing to do with quality and it was only a matter of adapting to the division. I believe that the best results in this weight category will be achieved in international events,” Cruz said, who was given an award as the best rookie of the year in Cuba in 2017.
“All fighters have their own style. I like three fighting styles: short, middle and long distance, and I used them depending on my rival. I take into account their experience and power. I never disrespect any of them. This sport is also about ethics. I don’t trust them either… it is dangerous. A single blow can put an end to a dream. You are to be careful. You go up there to win,” this fighter said during an interview.
Osvary Morell (81 kilograms)
At the age of 19, Morell seems to be ready to take the lead in the 81-kilogram division, since four-time world champion Julio Cesar la Cruz went up to 91 kg. This fighter stood out in the junior world championship held in St. Petersburg, where he was chosen best boxer and the AIBA named him as the best young pugilist of the world in 2016.
In the 2017 national championship, hosted by Sancti Spíritus, Morell proved to be ready to fight as a member of the national team, because he won the event in a very convincing way. In Tokyo 2020, when he is going to be 22 years old, Morell is likely to be one of the favorite men to climb the podium.
Jorge Griñán (52 kilograms)
In the world junior championship organized by St. Petersburg, in 2016, this fighter made it to the final in the 49-kilogram category, but he was defeated by Indian Sachin. The Cuban boxer is presently fighting in the 52-kilogram division, where he is already a national junior runner-up and bronze medalist in the 2017 “Playa Giron” Tournament. Yosvany Veitia is the leader in his division, one of the most complete pugilists, so Griñan has to do his best to be included in the team and he’s got the talent, according to his first trainer Bismali Perez, who detailed that his disciple has succeeded because of three elements: “he is a strong, spirited and technical fighter.”
Damián Arce (49 kilograms)
Cuba counts on two excellent pugilists in the 49-kilogram division: Joahnys Argilagos, bronze medalist in Rio 2016, and Damian Arce, an impetuous fighter that has made headlines over the past two years. Who will go to the 2020 Olympic Games? Both are young and have fought against each other. In their recent clash, fighting for the 2017 national title, Arce defeated Argilagos, 3-2.
Armando Martínez (60 kilograms)
This boxer has followed his father’s steps, who was an Olympic champion in Moscow 1980. He fights in the 60-kilogram division, won the national title in 2016 and was the runner-up in 2017, when he lost against the main Cuban pugilist in that weight, Lazaro Alvarez, triple world champion.
His father is his number-one fan and, at the same time, his hardest critic. “I pay attention to all of his fights, with equanimity, but I’m burning inside. He likes it when I come to watch him fight, that encourages him,” Martinez underscored.