Leroy Brown, Gleaner Writer
Boxing powerhouse Cuba have officially ended their ban on professional boxing. The ban which has been in place for over 50 years, was lifted when their team, the Cuban Domadores (Tamers), participated in an exhibition match against the Mexican Guerreros in Mexico on Thursday and Friday, August 29-30. The Cubans have agreed to be part of the International Boxing Association (AIBA) World Series Boxing (WSB) professional league, which allows boxers to maintain their "amateur" status although they receive pay for performing.
The WSB has been in place for several years, and is a team competition involving franchises from all over the world. Currently, there are 12 franchises in two groups, A and B. The countries in Group A are Algeria, Argentina, Ukraine, Italy, the USA, and Germany. In Group B are Azerbaijan, Cuba, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Poland, and Russia. The franchises recruit boxers from all over the world and team members are not necessarily from the home country.
The Cubans and the Mexicans agreed to the exhibition match as a prelude to the start of the new season, and to announce to the boxing world that they have made this historic change. In WSB boxing, competition is over five rounds and all other professional rules are in place. AIBA will also be moving to full professional boxing in 2014 and all boxers who participate in that competition will maintain their Olympic Games eligibility.
cuban team talented
The Cubans put a very talented team of boxers against the experienced Mexican team and came out victorious 7-3. This was noteworthy, because the Mexicans have been in the WSB for three years and reached the semi-finals in the recently concluded series. Leading the charge for them was World Junior champion Erislandy Savon from the talented family of heavyweights that have been making their mark in amateur boxing for more than a decade. Savon and his opponent, Karimov Farrukh who was recruited to the Mexican team from Tajikistan, had what was regarded as the fight of the night. It was an action-packed affair and Farrukh shocked the Cuban by flooring him in the first round. Savon came back aggressively in the second round however, floored his opponent three times and the referee called a halt to the fight at that stage. The Cubans made an early statement with a decisive victory and have served notice that they will be dangerous opponents. Unlike the other teams that recruit boxers from other countries, the Cuban team at least for now, is expected to be all Cuban.