A carnival atmosphere greeted defending WSB champions Cuba Domadores in Havana on Friday night as the title-holders welcomed Venezuela Caciques for the opening action of Season VII. It was a fitting way to begin the new campaign, with the imperious Domadores continuing where they left off last year with a consummate team display on route to a 5-0 win. As the live music faded and the fans welcomed their heroes to the ring, Cuba’s Rio 2016 stars and new talents received a hero’s welcome before crowd favourite and Olympic Light Flyweight bronze medallist Johanys Argilagos got the night underway against Caciques’ Jefferson Blanco. The famous Argilagos footwork immediately went on show, and for every Blanco attack, Argilagos seemed to find a combination in response in a sparkling display that earned a unanimous points win for the 19-year-old.
AIBA Youth World Champion Javier Ibanez is one of the world’s brightest Bantamweight (56kg) prospects, and he showed his potential once more with a solid performance against Venezuela Caciques’ Yoni Blanco. Both boxers went on the offensive from the opening bell and Blanco ensured Ibanez couldn’t relax as he ended the first round with a powerful uppercut. The versatile Cuban’s sheer variety of movement piled on the pressure, and despite a tighter third round, Ibanez went on to secure a comfortable win and a 2-0 lead for the home side. Andy Cruz Gomez’ move up to Light Welterweight (64kg) continued to pay dividends as he delivered a volley of rapid-fire jabs against Venezuelan Yoelvis Hernandez. The Caciques’ southpaw bravely sought a way through the Gomez defence, but that left openings for the Cuban’s flashing right to exploit on route to a unanimous win, and it was soon to be 4-0 after another masterful display of boxing from reigning World and Olympic Champion Arlen Lopez. It was a chastening WSB debut for the Caciques’ Keiber Osnel Gonzalez, but he takes huge credit for his resilience against last year’s knock-out master Lopez. That left the Heavyweights to complete the action in Havana, and it was the hosts’ second Rio 2016 bronze medallist, Erislandy Savon, who completed the whitewash with a disorientating first-round left-hook to Ronald Jose Gonzalez, after which the referee stopped the contest to send the volume in Havana up to ten at the end of the first WSB Season VII match.