Mon. Dec 5th, 2022

(FILES) Gold medalist Cuban Andy Cruz celebrates on the podium during the men’s lightweight (57-63kg) boxing final victory ceremony at the Kokugikan Arena at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in this file photo taken on August 8, 2021. Tokyo. (Photo: Luis ROBAYO / AFP)

Olympic and triple world amateur boxing champion Andy Cruz, who was expelled from Cuba’s official federation in July, plans to turn pro and says he left his country “legally” after speculations he had fled.

Cruz, 27, did not reveal his current location in an interview with ESPN in Spanish, but expert blogs said he went to the Dominican Republic about two weeks ago.

“Thank God, I am already taking this big step that many have been waiting for. “I’m ready to face this huge challenge that lies before me and plan to do great things in professional boxing,” Cruz said on the network’s Knockout on Sunday.

Cruz was expelled from competing for Cuba in July after the country’s boxing federation called it an attempt to “illegally leave the country” a month ago.

In May, he withdrew from making his professional debut with other Cuban fighters in Mexico, the team’s first professional fight in 60 years. The Federation accused him of neglecting his education at the time.

At the Tokyo Summer Games a year later in 2021, Olympic lightweight champion Cruz explained to ESPN that his relationship with Cuba was “good” because he was “expelled from the national team” and left the country “legally”.

Considered technically the toughest Cuban fighter, the boxer emphasized that he “prepared very well” for his professional debut, noting: “I’m starting to take my first steps, I’m already taking action, I’m training already.”

“I will now mark a new phase in my career in professional boxing,” Cruz said.

Cuban officials told AFP that the island’s sports officials cannot comment on the boxer’s activities because he is no longer “a member of Cuban sports.”

Known as the “dancer of the ring” in Cuba, Cruz was the highest-profile loss for the country’s team to win 80 world and 41 Olympic titles since double Olympic champion Robeisy Ramirez defected to Mexico in 2018.

Ramirez is currently shining on the US boxing scene.

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