Cuban boxers stage victorious professional comeback
May 22, 2022 10:00 AM
With five wins by knockout and another by unanimous decision, Cuban boxers made a triumphant comeback in their nation's first professional contest in six decades in Mexico.
Six members of Cuba's "Los Domadores" national team easily overcame their opponents -- five Mexicans and one Colombian -- at the Friday night gala in the central city of Aguascalientes.
The contest will go down in history "not only for Cuban boxing, but also professional boxing, with six Cubans entering through the front door," said team captain Julio Cesar La Cruz, 32.
The two-time Olympic champion won by knockout one minute and 40 seconds into the second round against Colombian Deivis Casseres.
Cuba has long been a powerhouse of Olympic boxing, but participation in professional sport was barred by the late revolutionary leader Fidel Castro in 1962.
After decades of defections by boxers who fled overseas to pursue salaried careers, the communist nation's authorities in April finally opened up participation in professional boxing competitions.
The Cuban Boxing Federation said before Friday's contest that the fighters would be allowed to keep 80 percent of the salary owed to them for each fight.
Four Olympic medalists made their professional debuts in Mexico, including three-time world champion Lazaro Alvarez, along with two-time Olympic champions Roniel Iglesias and Arlen Lopez.
Lopez knocked out Mexico's Fernando Galvan just one minute and 34 seconds into the first round.
"We want to show the high quality of Cuban boxing and that we can go far in professional boxing," he said afterward.
The Cuban squad was rounded out by world champion Yoenlis Hernandez and super featherweight Osvel Caballero.
All the Cubans won by knockout except for Alvarez, who beat his Mexican competitor Francisco Mercado by unanimous decision.