Cuban Boxers: The Best and the Busts

Erislandy-Lara-vs-Alfredo-AnguloPhoto: Esther Lin / SHOWTIME

From Showtime Boxing Analyst Steve Farhood
IBF Super Featherweight Titlist Rances Barthelemy, who will defend his title on Saturday, October 4th SHOWTIME BOXING Special Edition, is the latest in a long line of Cuban world champions.

Here are the five best Cuban professionals of the last 20 years … and the five biggest busts.

The Best

  1. Guillermo Rigondeaux: Best 122-pounder in world is also Top-10 pound-for-pounder based on comprehensive win over Nonito Donaire.
  2. Joel Casamayor: Southpaw titlist was top-shelf at 130 and 135 pounds for better part of 10 years. Beat, among others, Lamont Pearson, Nate Campbell and Diego Corrales.
  3. Erislandy Lara: Like Rigondeaux, not always fan-friendly, but wins over Austin Trout and Alfredo Angulo, narrow loss to Canelo Alvarez, and ridiculous draw vs. Paul Williams (should’ve been scored easy win for Lara) have created mighty strong resume.
  4. Juan Carlos Gomez: Fourth consecutive southpaw on this list. Made 10 defenses as cruiser champ and also competed at heavyweight, challenging Vitali Klitschko in 2009.
  5. Yuriorkis Gamboa: Recent loss to Terence Crawford was first of career. Wins over Ponce DeLeon, Darleys Perez, Jonathan Barros, and Orlando Salido land him here.

The Busts

  1. Jorge Luis Gonzalez: You think amateur wins over Lennox Lewis, Riddick Bowe, and Teofilo Stevenson created lofty expectations? Was 23-0 when kayoed by Bowe in 1995, and suffered seven stoppage losses in all.
  2. Yan Barthelemy: Older brother of Rances. Won Olympic gold in 2004, but lost seventh pro bout and compiled record of only 12-3.
  3. Ramon Garbey: World amateur champ in 1993, but was usually poorly conditioned as pro, losing at cruiser to James Toney and heavyweight to Fres Oquendo.
  4. Odlanier Solis: Easy to understand the hype: Beat legend Felix Savon two of three, was three-time amateur world champion, and won Olympic gold in 2004. Has fought in 260-pound range as pro (too heavy). Losses to Tony Thompson and Vitali Klitschko haven’t been balanced by major wins.
  5. Yordenis Ugas: Awesome amateur credentials: 2005 World Champion and 2008 Olympic bronze medalist. Started 11-0 as pro, but has gone only 4-3 since.


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