Published on Saturday, July 28, 2007
By Steve Keating
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (Reuters): Hit hard by defections, Cuba's
long-time domination inside the Panamerican Games boxing ring was on the
ropes on Friday after claiming just a single gold medal.
The first day of the boxing finals started smartly for the Cubans, with
Yordenis Ugas demolishing Brazil's Everton Lopes to claim the
lightweight gold and give his country its 100th medal and 72nd gold in
the Panam ring.
But there would be no more gold for Cuba on Friday
The loss of Olympic and world bantamweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux
and welterweight world champion Erislandy Lara, who failed to appear for
their quarter-final bouts on Sunday only to surface in Germany a few
days later signing professional contracts, has hit the team hard.
Cuba arrived in Rio already reeling from the defections of Olympic and
Panamerican medallists Yan Barthelemy, Yuriolkis Gamboa and heavyweight
Odlanier Solis, who slipped away during training for the Panams in Caracas.
Mexico's Carlos Cuadras Quiroa, who advanced in a walkover when
Rigondeaux failed to appear for their quarter-final, went on to claim
the gold, outpointing Claudio Marrero of the Dominican Republic 15-11.
"That's a lot of punishment to take," U.S. national coach Dan Campbell
told Reuters. "They're not use to losing those people. It's got to hurt."
Despite being decimated by defections, Cuba is not ready to throw in the
towel and with fighters in four of six title bouts on Saturday could
still top the boxing medal table.
The Caribbean powerhouse, however, will not match the success it has
enjoyed at recent Games, having won a total 15 gold medals at the last
two Panams, including nine in 1999 in Winnipeg.
Light flyweight Luis Yanez outpointed Venezuela's Kevin Betancourt 14-7
to give the U.S. just its third Panam gold medal in as many Games.
The U.S. look set to add the welterweight gold to its haul, until
Brazil's Pedro Lima rallied in the closing seconds to narrowly outpoint
Demetrius Andrade 7-6, leading Campbell to accuse the judges of backing
the home fighter.
"The judging has not been okay throughout this whole tournament," said
Campbell. "When you have Brazilians coming up to you and apologising for
the way we have been treated by the judges since we've been here there's
"They have to come to Chicago for the world championships later this
year, they'll get a taste of how we do it."