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  • Cuban Men Own the Ring in Lima


    (ATR) Cuba puts on a boxing lesson in Lima.

    Andy Cruz of Cuba defeats Keyshawn Davis of the USA (Lima 2019)
    For the second straight night, the Caribbean country's men's team took home a bevy of gold medals on Friday. Cubans won in all four finals they fought in, adding to the four gold medals won the previous night in five weight classes. 

    After Oscar Collazo of Puerto Rico won at 46-49kg, Cuba took gold in the next four fights: Osvel Caballero at 56kg, Andy Cruz for 64kg, Arlén López for 75kg and Erislandy Savón with 91kg.

    No Cuban women took part. Ingrit Valencia of Colombia won at 48-51kg, Beatriz Iasmin Soares of Brazil at 57-60kg, and Jessica Caicedo of Colombia at 69-75kg. 

    There was a full house at the Callao boxing club, the crowd noise enhanced by music.

    After Caballero defeated Duke Ragan of the USA, he told Around the Rings "I'm really happy, I got the control of the fight and never let him advance. I think I had a good tournament and still training to get my best version". 

    "Gonna Fly Now" from the Rocky movie played on the loudspeakers as Andy Cruz and Keyshawn Davis (USA) got in the ring to fight for the gold medal at 64kg. No one could get the upper hand until round 3 when the Cuban took control and won.

    "The USA [fighter] said he was going to take me dancing, but no one takes me dancing," said Cruz. "I think I'm on a good boxing level and tonight I was able to show it. Cuba is really powerful and lots of other countries study our method. I dream about the Olympic medal, but we still have many tournaments to go."

    Cuban Arlen Lopez lands a punch on Hebert Carvalho of Brazil (Lima 2019)
    Arlén López was the next Cuban fighter to enter the ring, facing Hebert Carvalho from Brazil. It was a really tough fight, with the fans in the stands screaming so loud in favor of the Brazilian that Lopez lost control at some points during the bout. But strong as it's country's history got the strength and achieved the gold medal. After the fight, while the victory ceremony was ongoing fans went crazy but López never lost his nerve and stayed confident.

    Finally, "Lift Me Up" from One Republic was the song chosen to welcome Cuba's Erislandy Savón and Julio César Costilla (Ecuador) on stage. The fight only took 10 minutes with the Cuban winning. 

    "This is the result of years of effort and training, but also of the support of the whole country," Savón said.

    "Cuba has a great development for boxing and like at every Pan Am Game could take the most from it. Yesterday we had a good performance getting four of five golds, and today we wanted more and had everything planned to take control and thank god we did it."

    Winning eight of the nine finals in Lima compares favorably to the last two Pan Am Games. At Toronto in 2015, Cuba won a medal from 10 finals (six gold and four silver), one more than in 2011 when from the 10 available they won nine (eight gold and one silver). With Friday's achievement of sweeping their four fights, Cuba again won eight of the nine finals.  

    Written and reported by Olivia Diaz Ugalde in Lima.

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