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Cuban fighters dominate Pan Am Games boxing

Published:Thursday | August 6, 2015 | 12:47 PMLeroy Brown
Gold medalist in men’s light heavyweight boxing, Cuba’s Julio La Cruz, salutes as he steps on to the medals podium at the Pan Am Games in Oshawa, Ontario, on Saturday, July 25.
Cuba’s Lenier Pero pumps his fists as he steps on to the medals podium to receive gold in men’s super heavyweight boxing, at the Pan Am Games in Oshawa, Ontario on Saturday, July 25.

Boxing powerhouse Cuba made it clear that they are the top nation in the sport in the Americas, and are still a potent force in world amateur boxing, when they won 10 medals in the recently concluded Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada. They were in the finals of all the men's boxing divisions, and ended up with six gold and four silver medals. They did not enter any female boxers.

Host nation Canada also performed brilliantly and took home three gold and three bronze medals. The United States won two gold, one silver and two bronze medals to take third spot in the medal placing. Canada's female boxers won two of the three gold medals that women competed for, while the highly favoured US team, won the other female gold medal.

This performance by Cuba, made them the most successful nation in boxing since the Pan American Games started in 1951. To date, they have won 90 gold, 20 silver and 16 bronze medals, for a total of 126. The US are second with 33 gold 32 silver and 41 bronze for a total of 106, while Argentina are third with 21 gold, 15 silver and 27 bronze for a total of 63.

It was recognised from the start of the competition that Cuba was the team to beat, and from day one they started to mow down the opposition. In the finals, however, competition was very keen in the lower weight classes, and four of their highly rated boxers had to be satisfied with silver.

They prevailed in the heavier weight classes and although well known heavyweight Erislandy SavÛn for example, had to work hard for his victory, he took the gold medal with a 2-1 verdict over Venezuela' s Julio Deivi. It was another Cuba versus Venezuela clash in the super heavyweight division, and Cuba again prevailed as Lenier Pero defeated Edgar Munoz on points 2-1.

Outstanding performances

Female boxers again showed that they have a place in boxing in international games, by giving some outstanding performances. They are only allowed three weight classes, but their performances were excellent throughout, and strengthened the call by AIBA president C.K. Wu, for more places for women in boxing in the various games.

All three female bouts drew rave reviews for their competitiveness, and Canada took two of the three gold medals. Cheered wildly by the home crowd, flyweight Mandy Bujold gave herself a birthday present, by defeating highly favoured American Marlen Esparza on points, while lightweight Caroline Veyre defeated Argentina's Dayan Sanchez, also on points.

In one of the other highlights of the competition, American Claressa Shields lived up to expectations and defeated Yenebier Guillen from the Dominican Republic, on points, to take the middleweight title.