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Lightweight gold medalist Andy Cruz reportedly defecting from Cuba

Cruz was pulled from his professional debut last month for what his coach called “attitude” and “performance” problems, but that now appears to have been be a smokescreen

Boxing - Olympics: Day 16 Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images
Patrick Stumberg is a freelance writer for SB Nation, first joining the network in 2011 before linking up with Bad Left Hook in 2015.

Those of you who surmised that Tokyo 2020 lightweight gold medalist Andy Cruz getting yanked from his pro debut for “attitude” problems was actually just an attempt to keep him from defecting, pat yourselves on the back. BoxeoCubano’s Willie Suarez (not to be confused with accused murderer Willy Suarez Maceo, no matter what Google’s “did you mean” dealie might claim) claims that Cruz has officially left Cuba after no-showing a tournament and is in a “third country” en route to a “better future.”

The Fight Site’s Taylor O’Higgins reports that the “main priority” right now is getting him safely to the United States, with questions of promoters and trainers on the backburner for now. O’Higgins named Ismael Salas, who trains fellow expats Yordenis Ugas and Robeisy Ramirez, as Cruz’s choice of partner.

There’s a lot more that goes into defection than just getting ashore, so this is obviously far from a sure thing at the moment. If he does succeed, however, his future looks phenomenally bright. Cruz was a standout even among a hugely decorated Cuban squad, and if he can get the right people behind him, the 135-pound division is going to go from stacked to downright scary very quickly.

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