poised for a monster medal haul at the 2004 Olympics in Athens. At the close of Sunday’s action, the island nation
had ten boxers still chasing the gold in the eleven weight classes. Cuba’s roster is stacked with skilled veterans
because that nation does not permit its boxers to turn professional. By contrast, the United States has just three
boxers remaining after heavyweight Devin Vargas fought with an injured knee and was eliminated by Viktar Zuyev. Two
of those Americans must defeat boxers from Cuba in order to secure an Olympic medal. Besides Zuyev, who represents
Belarus, the heavyweights who are now guaranteed to take home medals are Odlanier Solis Fonte (Cuba), Naser Ali
Shami (Syria) and Mohamed Elsayed (Egypt). At welterweight, two-time Olympic champion Russian Oleg Saitov will win a
third medal by virtue of defeating an Uzbeki opponent, while Lorenzo Aragon edged an Azerbaijani opponent 16-14.
Also advancing at welter were Korea’s Jung Joo Kim and Kazakhstan’s Bakhtiyar Artayev. In the light welterweight
category, Manus Boonjumnong of Thailand upset France’s Willy Blain and joins Cuba’s Yudel Johnson Cedeno, Bulgaria’s
Boris Georgiev and Romania’s Ionut Gheorghe in the semi-finals. The headline bout on Monday will pit American super
heavyweight Jason Estrada against Cuba’s Michael Lopez Nunez, but a Cuban victory is far from a foregone conclusion:
at the 2003 pan Am games, Estrada defeated the 275-pound Cuban.