World Boxing Championship in Belgrade: Fists, Keys, and Ropes

World Boxing Championship in Belgrade: Fists, Keys, and Ropes
Fecha de publicación: 
14 October 2021
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The Cuban Boxing Team will participate in the World Boxing Championship to be held in Belgrade (October 26th-November 6th) with a lot to prove. The new rule of 13 divisions is one of the novelties adopted by AIBA after the Olympic Games held in Tokyo.

A total of 200,000 USD will be paid to medalists; that is, 100,00 USD-prize for gold medalists, 50,000 USD-prize for silver medalists, and 25,000 USD-prize for bronze medalists each. Certainly, we will see if amid such hostility and the U.S. blockade, our athletes will cash in the money if they earn it.

This world championship will mark the beginning of a new Olympic cycle. In our case, it will be great to see competing at the highest level athletes such as Osvaldo Caballero (57 kg), Kevin Brown (67 kg), and Yoenlis Feliciano (75 kg), the first two a with huge rivalry with stellar Lázaro Álvarez (60 kg) and Roniel Iglesias (71 kg), and thus showcasing their real chances for Paris 2024.

In Feliciano’s case, he could not participate in Tokyo due to insufficient ranking points. That is why he is thirsty for a big achievement. With Arlen López being moved up to the 81 kg-division, there are no other contenders for the position so far.

Arlen, by the way, will be one of the huge loses in the Cuban Team as he experienced personal issues which kept him away from his optimal shape to compete.

Other absences are Covid-related. We are talking about Yosbany Veitía (54 kg), Dainier Peró (+92 kg), Damián Arce (51 kg), and Billy Rodríguez (48 kg).

In the case of Peró and Veitía, both 5th place in Tokyo, are two significant loses. Veitía won the gold medal in 2017 and the earned the bronze medal in Almaty 2013 (49 kg), and was the runner-up in Doha 2015 (52 kg). Meanwhile, Peró has no outstanding results in world championships so far. Nonetheless, he has gained lots of experience in challenging tournaments, especially in the last four years.

Just one detail, the heavyweight division has been elusive for Cubans. Since Odlanier Solís’ medal in Mianyang 2005, Cuban heavyweight boxers have not earned a single medal. It means, 13 years going blank.

That being said, the athletes traveling to the Serbian capital city will be: Roniel Iglesias (71 kg), Julio César La Cruz (92 kg), Andy Cruz (63 kg), Lázaro Álvarez (60 kg), in addition to the aforementioned Caballero, Brown, Feliciano, and Herich Ruiz (86 kg), who will depart on Sunday via Uzbekistan to be part of intensive workouts —vital—, especially for the least experienced, who are going to see a sample of the Asian and European boxing styles.

The Keys…

I have always heard that we must make the most of out of our good fortune. That is actually what Roniel, Julio César and Andy are going to do. With a barely perceptible body weight gain, the first two —33 and 32 years old, respectively— will presumably face some new rivals and they will prove they are still the best.

We are talking about two of the most successful boxers ever.

A look at the two previous world championships held in the recently concluded Olympic cycle, we can see that Cuba won easily in Hamburg 2017 (5-2-0), with Andy and La Cruz among the gold medalists, while Roniel was runner-up. Two years later in Ekaterinburg, the team underperformed (1-1-1).

Taking into consideration the boxing quality of this quartet, they must be fighting for medals once again, while Brown and Caballero strong candidates to join this group.

Both have had excellent testing experiences here in Cuba after their fights against Roniel and Lázaro, and have responded well when given the chance.

About our other representatives, Peró is the one with greatest experience. But if we take a look at his lack of results abroad, and the quality level of some of his likely opponents, he would face some of them, who are better.

We should closely monitor Feliciano and Ruiz and give them the benefit of the doubt as some Cuban rookies in prior editions have astonished the world by the grace of their technique and strength of their blows, under the leadership of head coach Rolando Acebal and the rest of the technical staff since Beijing 2008.

Since the first edition held in Havana 1974. Cuba treasures (77-35-26) and therefore leads the historical medal standing, followed by Russia (26-21-22), the U.S. (16-11-19), and the former Soviet Union (15-11-17).

Apropos of the team and a likely performance, head coach Acebal remarked to colleague Guillermo Rodríguez:

“…The team changed. We go with only eight boxers. It is absolutely negative as we lose the chance to train all those athletes. We aim to improve the result of the last world championship…”

Meanwhile, concerning the training camp and optimal condition of the team, he stated:

“It is brief training camp but crucial. We must find a better training-rest correlation and we will have that possibility there. In addition to this, we will face opponents.

Since we resumed training time has not been enough as we have been affected by the pandemic. These are stellar boxers and they may overcome the lack of physical condition…”

This is the general perspective before the competition. The initial gong before Paris 2024.

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Díaz / CubaSí Translation Staff

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