Mexico City, Mexico, August 29, 2013 – Crowds and members of the national press gathered yesterday afternoon in front of the Monumento a la Revolución in Mexico City to watch the weigh in for the most exciting boxing event to take place in many years.
Fifty one years after Fidel Castro banned pro-boxing in Cuba in 1962, the island’s world class boxing team will finally be unleashed into the pro-ranks tonight and on Friday evening. The Cubans will be fighting exclusively in the World Series of Boxing (WSB), which is the first ever global pro-boxing league. WSB matches are contested by national based teams who compete across ten weight categories. The Cubans have named their team the Domadores (the “tamers”) and will step into the ring tonight against a tough Mexican Guerreros team that reached the semi-finals of the WSB last season.
Whilst the event might technically be described as a pre-season friendly, both sides are keen to win such an important event, while boxing fans the world over are waiting to see how the Cuban boxers adapt to the pro-game.
International Boxing Association (AIBA) President and WSB Board Chairman Dr. Ching-Kuo Wu, was present at the event as was Mr. Dagoberto Rodríguez Barrera, the Cuban Ambassador in Mexico. Other dignitaries included Mr. Horacio de la Vega, the General Director of the Sport Institute of Mexico City, Mr. Ricardo Contreras Hernández, President of the Mexican Boxing Federation and Mr. Alberto Puig de la Barca, President of the Cuban Boxing Federation.
As you would expect from athletes of this caliber, all the boxers made their weight without any issues. Such is the magnitude of the moment that there has been absolutely no trash talking or efforts to psych opponents out as you often see at other boxing weigh-ins, rather there has been a lot of respect. Nonetheless you could also clearly see how motivated each boxer was when they locked eyes for the stare-down. They all seem to have recognized the significance of the match and perhaps as a result it will not be that friendly an affair after all.
President Wu captured the mood when he said in his speech: “I am extremely happy to be here in Mexico for this historic match. We are in one of the most iconic places in Mexico City to celebrate boxing in a country that loves our sport. I am proud to be the president of the organization that has brought Cuba back into pro boxing. This event will be a milestone for AIBA, for the WSB and the sport of boxing as a whole. None of this would have been possible however without the huge support of the people and officials of Mexico City. I want to thank the Mayor and Mr. de la Vega for giving us their full support. I wish all the boxers the best of luck. Remember that on Thursday and Friday, the whole world will be watching you. Mexico City will be the center of the boxing planet”.
Horacio de la Vega meanwhile explained: “I am here today on behalf of the Mayor of Mexico City to express the full support of our city for the WSB.” He went on to show his delight in the success of the weigh in, saying “I am happy to see so many important people here today. It confirms that this event is special. It is a historic event organized in the context of a very important competition. I am also proud of the exposure it gives to the city. I love the WSB and I encourage everybody who hasn’t seen what it is about yet, to watch the match on Thursday and Friday”.
Alberto Puig President of the Cuban Boxing Federation underlined the excitement in both Cuba and the boxing world about the country’s decision to join the WSB: “It feels a bit special for me to be here and to realize that our entry into the WSB is now concrete. I want to thank Dr. Wu, AIBA and the WSB for having offered us the opportunity to join this wonderful competition. If it wasn’t for AIBA and the WSB, we would not have made this historic move. We will join the WSB with all of our passion and enthusiasm, and we will demonstrate that on Thursday and Friday. We could not have dreamt of a better event than this one to begin our return to the pro-ranks. We are very excited. I also want to thank the Mexican authorities for their warm welcome and hosting us since we arrived last week”.
Ricardo Contreras, president of the Mexican Boxing Federation agreed, saying: “This event marks a historic moment for Cuba, but also for Mexico and the Mexican Boxing Federation. On Thursday and Friday, another page of Mexican boxing will be written here in Mexico City. On behalf of the Mexican Olympic Committee, of which I am the Secretary General, I want to express our full support to the WSB. It is a very innovative way to qualify athletes for the Olympic Games and we are proud to be part of such program”.