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Top 5 active Cuban boxers who have defected to fight professionally
You might think that sneaking a Cuban cigar home with you from your trip to Montreal or a Caribbean island is a risky proposition, well, try being a world class Cuban boxer seeking to utilize his talents on the world stage by turning professional. The only option for these men is to defect from Cuba and seek asylum elsewhere, hoping to find lucrative opportunities as professional prizefighters, while risking severe punishment and a life potentially separated from their family and loved ones.
Right now, there is a great collection of Cuban talent who have done just that. From bantamweight all the way up to heavyweight, the group is ready have a breakout 2011. Here are the top 5 active Cuban boxers who have defected from their country in order to pursue professional careers.
5. Alexei Collado: The youngest and least heralded of the group, Alexei Collado Acosta sits at 13-0 with 13 knockouts as 2011 begins. Collado has been fighting out of Ireland and is fighting professionally at super bantamweight, 122 lbs. His wins have come against mostly sub-par opposition, and 2011 will hopefully see the 22-year-old dubbed "The Hurricane" step up in class.
4. Odlanier Solis: Solis is the 2004 gold medal winner at heavyweight, and beat fighters such as David Haye and Sultan Ibgragimov in the amateurs. He's currently slated to face Vitali Klitschko in March 2011, and is viewed by some as the secret weapon in the heavyweight division to unseat the Klitschko brothers. Solis needs to watch his weight though, coming in as heavy as 271 lbs in recent fights after weighing as little as 246 lbs earlier in his professional career.
3. Guillermo Rigondeaux: The two-time Olympic gold medalist at bantamweight at the 2000 and 2004 games, Rigondeaux is wasting no time, fighting for an interim belt in just his seventh professional fight, a tougher than expected win over Ricardo Cordoba in November of 2010. The fact that he was criticized for his performance in the bout, in which he beat one of the top 122 lbers in the world in his seventh professional meeting, shows the level of expectation and talent that Rigondeaux, "The Jackal", brings to the table. Rigondeaux defected from Cuba in 2007.
2. Erislandy Lara: Seen by some as the most "complete package" of the group, Erislandy Lara is 14-0 with 9 knockouts but has faced few notable opponents thus far in his career. He is a two-time world amateur champion and is fighting at junior middleweight. He notably handled American amateur standout Demetrius Andrade when they met. He defected along with Rigondeaux, but was caught and had to make a second attempt at his freedom in 2008.
1. Yuriorkis Gamboa: The 2004 gold medalist at flyweight, Gamboa has gotten the most done so far as a professional, thanks to a busy schedule and his dazzling, startling athleticism. Currently at 19-0 with 15 knockouts and potentially heading towards a showdown against fellow undefeated featherweight Juan Manuel Lopez, Gamboa is the WBA featherweight champion and has made four successful title defenses. He has been working on improving his defensive deficiencies and could be making an appearance on the pound for pound list soon. Gamboa and Solis defected together at the end of 2006, along with Yan Barthelemy, who surprisingly struggled in his professional turn, losing 2 bouts, one by TKO.
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