Wednesday, February 21, 2024  |


Cuban boxers readying for Olympics face pro fighters Friday night

Fighters Network

The Cuban National team will participate in this summer’s Olympic Games and to sharpen up their skills the fighters will fight face off against prizefighters from Mexico Friday night.

Andy Cruz (pictured below), the two-time amateur champion, will face former IBF lightweight titleholder Miguel Vazquez at El Palenque de la Feria Nacional de San Marcos in Aguascalientes, Mexico.

Also on the card will be Arlen Lopez, taking on former world super middleweight title challenger Rogelio Medina.

Both those bouts, along with six others, will air live on ESPN Knockout (8:30 p.m. CT). All bouts will be scheduled for six rounds.

Friday’s program will be a historic event as it will be the first time the famed Cuban National team will square off against pro fighters.

The Olympic Games run from July 23 to August 8, after having been postponed last summer while the pandemic raged.

At age 25, Cruz has accumulated a record of 105-8. He won two world amateur championships, one in 2017 and the other in 2019, along with twice winning a gold medal at the Pan American Games, his most recent in 2019.

Vazquez (43-10, 17 knockouts; see below), who resides in Guadalajara, Mexico, last fought on April 16, stopping once-beaten Isai Hernandez in round 7.

Six months before the win over Hernandez, Vazquez lost by split-decision to Lewis Ritson in a fight some thought Vazquez did enough to win.

The 34-year-old won the vacant IBF lightweight title in August 2010, defeating Ji Hoon Kim by unanimous decision. He would make six successful defenses before losing the title by split-decision to Mickey Bey four years later.

Lopez has won several amateur championships on the international level, beginning at the World Junior Championships in 2009. The 28-year-old won a gold medal in the middleweight division at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Medina (39-9, 33 KOs), who resides in Hermosillo, Mexico, has not fought since knocking out Rafael Ortiz Moreno in September 2019. He has split his last six fights, with the three losses coming against James DeGale, David Benavidez, and Caleb Plant.

In junior middleweight action, Roniel Iglesias, one of Cuba’s most decorated fighters, will face Jose Miguel Borrego.

Iglesias, who has accumulated an amateur record of 266-36, won a bronze medal at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and a gold medal at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

He lost in the second round of the 2016 Olympic Games to Uzbekistan’s Shakhram Giyasov, who is currently an unbeaten prospect.

Borrego (18-3, 16 KOs) will be fighting before a hometown crowd. The 23-year-old lost by split-decision to Alan Sanchez in his last bout on May 1, snapping a four-bout winning streak.

Julio Cesar La Cruz, who won a gold medal at the 2016 Olympic Games and has accumulated a 206-18 record, will square off against cruiserweight Francisco Rivas (15-2, 5 KOs), who has won his last three bouts since losing to then-unbeaten Artur Ziiatdinov in October 2018.

Vosbany Veitia, who fought at the 2012 Olympic Games, will face Emmanuel Dominguez (26-9, 18 KOs) in a junior featherweight bout. Dominguez also resides in Aguascalientes.

Three more fights will round out the card.

Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (Calif.) Star newspaper. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing