Lázaro Álvarez (right) has returned to the World Series in great shape / Photo: Ricardo López Hevia
For the fourth consecutive time, Cuban boxing has reached its goal of making the finals in the World Series of Boxing (WSB), just as the Tournament of the Americas is underway in Honduras, June 10-18, where they hope to qualify for the 19th World Championship, scheduled for September in the German city of Hamburg.
Many thought that Cuba's participation in the seventh WSB finals was practically guaranteed, but rivals who entered the ring put up good fights, challenging the defending champions, making clear the high level of boxers participating in the event.
It has not been easy for the Domadores of Cuba, especially for boxers in the C-1 group (49, 56, 64, 75 and 91 kg), to triumph in other countries' venues. Of the 25 fights which have taken place abroad, in Colombia twice, Venezuela, Argentina and Uzbekistan, the team has suffered 12 defeats, often in fights that were not even close. Officials have yet to determine in which country the last bouts with the Astana Arlans (Kazakhstan) will begin.
If the Domadores advance to the finals, it will be in great part due to the success of the C-2 group (52, 60, 69, 81 and +91 kg), a quintet that survived the quarter and semi-finals with an adverse score of 2-3. One interesting fact is that no visiting opponent has been able to defeat the home team in Havana's Ciudad Deportiva, during the current version of the World Series.
Prior to the fights scheduled against the favored Kazakhstan, Cuba sent a complete team to Honduras, seeking one of the six tickets being awarded in each division to the Hamburg World Championship.
This tournament will allow boxers who have had unstable performances in the current season to get in better shape to take on the powerful Astana Arlans. The plan is to send the same individuals competing in Honduras to the WSB title competition.
The World Series title match will see two teams of fighters with experience at the international level, be that in World Championships, the Olympics, and continental tournaments. The challenge facing both teams is great, in particular for the Astana Arlans, a franchise which will make its first appearance in Havana, where no team has won during the last two years.
The Cuban and Kazak teams have met twice before in title matches, in 2014 and 2015. Three years ago, the Domadores defeated Astaná Arlans with an extra bout won by Arisnoidis Despaigne, 69 kg, but succumbed in the following year's global competition against Kazakhstan, on a night that was not exempt from controversial decisions.
Thus, the winner of this meet will take not only the 2017 crown, but the lead in this private duel. If Cuba can repeat its championship victory, the team will have won three gold medals in four World Series, which would be the beginning of a veritable dynasty.
About the Author
Órgano oficial del Comité Central del Partido Comunista de Cuba.