The Cuban Heavyweight Mission Boxing News 24

Through Gav Duthie: Different paths, the same goal. The veteran, the suitor and the prospect. 3 Cuban heavyweights kept us all entertained on the first day of 2022 with victories that kept them on track to become Cuba’s very first heavyweight world champion.

(Photo credit: Ryan Hafey / First Boxing Champion)

Veteran Luis Ortiz survived the fear of stopping former IBF World Champion Charles Martin, Frank Sanchez easily outscored Christian Hammer and Lenier Pero beat compatriot Geovany Bruzon.

It was confirmed today that the latter of Pero and Bruzon will now be guided by Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) in addition to the others, giving everyone the best chance to achieve what no one else has ever done. Who, if anyone, will be the one to do it, however?

The desertion of Cuba

It’s quite ironic that Cuba never had a heavyweight world champion when two of their all-time greatest fighters, Teofilo Stevenson and Felix Savon (3 Olympic gold medals each), were both in the this weight class. Unfortunately, neither has ever turned professional. Today, there are many more Cuban amateurs who are defecting to become professionals than ever before. Nino Valdes was highly rated in the 1950s, and Jose Ribalta beat Leon Spinks and fought Mike Tyson in the 1980s. Lately Odlandier Solis has made a weak attempt against Vitaly Klitschko (WBC) 10 years ago, and Juan Carlos Gomez was a cruiserweight champion before a failed weight bid, but in general Cuban heavyweights have been in short supply.

Perhaps the death of Fidel Castro or just a change of epoch means that many more Cubans, in general, are turning their backs on Communist boxing and turning professional. Yordenis Ugas leads the way, but the heavyweights are numerous and also more than ever. The veteran, the contender and the prospects.

The amateur scene

Sometimes not being the best Cuban amateur can work in your favor. This means that many of them turn professional early. Probably the most exciting Cuban candidate / contender at the moment is David Morrell Jr. He is only 23 years old and is already a world champion as he was unlikely to represent Cuba at the Olympics as he was behind Julio Cesar La Cruz. The Olympics are the pinnacle of boxing in Cuba, so if you can’t make it, many turn pro.

This situation was the same for Frank Sanchez. Frank is 20-0 (13), Lenier Pero is 6-0 (3) despite both being 29 years old. Sanchez and Pero fought six times at the amateurs, Pero winning 5. Since Frank was behind him and the likes of Erislandy Savon, he turned pro and is reaping the rewards.

This also applied to Luis Ortiz. Being 42 years old (or maybe older, as some would say), he actually lost to the great Felix Savon in 1999 and several times to Odlandier Solis, who won gold at the 2004 Olympics. ; he hasn’t really been pushed into the amateur game.

It can also help as they are not anchored in the amateur style. Luis Ortiz is popular because although he is technical, he does not box like a Cuban. He has a killer instinct with his King Kong character alongside his tech skills, just like Frank Sanchez.

The best chance?

Luis Ortiz 33-2 (28) – The veteran

At 42, he has definitely shown signs of aging against Charles Martin. Getting knocked over as a heavyweight is fine, but the way he got knocked down was worrying. He was shot down with a jab although he wasn’t off balance on entering. Even the left right-hander glanced at the top of his head which knocked him down on the first lap didn’t look right. Power is always the last thing to leave, and he showed a lot of it when he stopped Martin, but his image as a bogeyman was definitely tarnished. Victory keeps him in the mix; he will get another title or, at the very least, a final eliminator. It won’t be avoided now, however. The likes of Dillian Whyte, Joseph Parker, Andy Ruiz, Joe Joyce and Joseph Parker will be happy to face him to lead a path to the title.

The main options for PBC are to match him to Frank Sanchez in a Changing of the Guard fight or a final fight if he wins. Filip Hrgovic is an option for an IBF final eliminator, and they still honor their proxies. In all fairness, from what I saw on January 1, I don’t think he beats another top fighter, but I love watching him and can’t wait to see him try to prove that people are wrong.

Frank Sanchez 20-0 (13) – The competitor

Sanchez is ranked No. 6 with the WBC and No. 5 with the WBO. I saw incredible improvements with Sanchez with every fight. As mentioned above, not being too involved in Cuban Olympic boxing, he had a pretty aggressive style early on as a professional. Eddie Reynoso mixed his power with Cuban skills to perfection to beat Efe Ajagba on the Fury-Wilder undercard. His defensive finesse also meant that Christian Hammer had landed the fewest punches in history for a 10-round fight against him.

It will be interesting to see how they guide him. Internally they have Andy Ruiz Jr, who he might not be ready for, Robert Helenius, who’s on top, and Luis Ortiz, who is a big fight for the fans. I think it could be Ortiz next, and he’s got every chance to beat him and progress to a title shot.

Lenier Pero 6-0 (3) – The perspective

Luckily for Frank, who lost 5 times to Pero, he’s not yet big enough to fight Sanchez. It was a big fight against Bruzon, who impressed enough to win favor with PBC as well. Pero boxed at the 2016 Olympics losing to Filip Hrgovic in the quarterfinals, so he didn’t win a medal. His brother Dainier Pero suffered the same fate at the 2020/21 Olympics losing to Richard Torrez Jr. The Peros are much more refined and accomplished amateur-style fighters. In order to promote Lenier, they will have to add to his style. Even for popularity, he’ll need to have more of a killer instinct like Ortiz, but he’s only 29, and as long as he’s busy with PBC, he’ll have time to do it.

The next step for him could be a lineup of fighters from the Sunday card. I have a feeling Gerald Washington could retire, but he still has a few questions to ask. Iago Kiladze is probably more likely, who can knock you out if you’re not careful, or Jonathon Rice, who thinks he can devote himself to boxing after his two wins against Michael Coffie. Christian Hammer is always a test, and some other names that come to mind include Lucas Browne, Robert Alfonso (Cuban), Kevin Johnson, Carlos Negron, and Bogdan Dinu.

Pero is definitely one to watch, but there is still a long way to go.

And the new one?

Sadly, around this time, I suspect that all of these guys might fail in their quest for heavyweight glory, but from what I’ve seen Frank Sanchez has the greatest luck in the near future.