Cubans step into pro boxing
Cuba will take its first steps into professional boxing with a friendly team competition against Mexico next month.
The Cubans have selected a team to take part in the professional World Series Boxing (WSB) tournament, which is run by the Amateur International Boxing Association (AIBA).
Boxers who take part in the WSB competition are paid but do not lose their amateur status, allowing them to compete at the Olympic Games and other AIBA events.
Cuban boxers have been banned from turning professional. They were expected to compete for the glory of the nation by winning world and Olympic medals, rather than for their own financial gain.
As a result, many talented Cuban boxers defecting from the Caribbean island nation to turn professional and fight in other countries.
One of the most notable cases was three-time world champion and Athens Olympic gold medallist Odlanier Solis. He and Guillermo Rigondeaux, a double Olympic and world champion, defected in 2007.
But perhaps the best Cuban boxer, Felix Savon, the personal favourite of former Cuban president Fidel Castro, never quit his homeland and won three Olympic titles and five world championships.
The new Cuba Domadores team was chosen last month and will challenge the Mexico Guerreros in Mexico City on August 29 and 30.
The Domadores (it means "tamers") have replaced the British Lionhearts in the 12-team WSB competition after AIBA expelled the London-based squad over a row about funding.
Cuba will join Mexico and teams from Kazakhstan, the champions, Russia, Azerbaijan and Poland in Group B of the competition, which begins on November 15.
One change in the competition's rules resulted in teams doubling in size. The format now includes all ten AIBA weight divisions, instead of only five
Teams compete against each other home and away throughout the regular season before the top four from each group qualify for the quarterfinals.