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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Cuban Boxers Have Every Question Answered

ATLANTA -- What We Know: In amateur boxing, everybody defines himself by how well he fares against the Cubans.


The American team is talented, young and relatively inexperienced compared to the Cuban team, which, once again, is jammed with savvy fighters who would be professional stars if their government allowed them.


Cuban fighters won seven gold medals and two silvers at the 1992 Barcelona Games; the U.S. team's only gold came from Oscar De La Hoya.


But the Cubans could be deeply wounded by the defection during training in Mexico of two 22-year-old gold-medal contenders, 81-kilogram Ramon Garbey and 57-kilogram Joel Casamayor.


Depending on the draw, three of the U.S. team's best medal contenders -- 1995 world and Pan American Games 178-pound champion Antonio Tarver, Pan American Games 71-kilogram champion David Reid and Fernando Vargas, the 67 kilogram representative -- face potential showdowns with big-name fighters.


Tarver, 27, the Americans' only 1995 world champion and probably the U.S. team's best chance for a gold, was shockingly knocked down in a recent exhibition against a team of non-Olympic team Russians.


Though he came back to win the bout, that knockdown raised questions about someone who is in the same weight class as European champion Pietro Aurino of Italy.


Expected to remain on the team despite a recent arrest for assault, Reid, 22, moved up from welterweight and away from 1992 silver medalist Juan Hernandez, who stands as Vargas' biggest hurdle, but probably will have to go through Alfredo Buvergel, champion of the Pan Am Games.


Vargas, at 18 the youngest American team member, moved up to welterweight after losing in the 1995 World Championships to 63-kilogram Cuban, Hector Vinent, a gold medalist in Barcelona and generally considered the best fighter in the Games.


But Vargas, a power puncher who sometimes starts slowly, catches no break against Hernandez.


What We Don't Know: In single-elimination Olympic boxing, the event that brought you Roy Jones Jr.'s horrendous decision loss to a South Korean in Seoul, Eric Griffin's 6-5 loss to Rafael Lozano of Spain in Barcelona when Griffin was ahead on all five judges' individual cards, and so many other fiascoes, no one knows what will go on in the scoring.


In Barcelona, electronic scoring made its Olympic debut -- five judges tapped a keypad when they saw a scoring blow; a score was only recorded if three judges tap their pads within a second of each other, so the score was put on the scoreboard as the fight occurred.


The scoring won't be displayed in Atlanta until after the bout ends. But the same system will be used, which means combinations, judges can't react to three or four quick blows, and body shots, judges at bad angles can't see the punch land, will not be advantageous.


Someone You Should Know: The acknowledged king of the event, Cuban heavyweight Felix Savon, who has won five consecutive world titles, is an overwhelming favorite to win his second Olympic gold medal.


Savon was the only fighter to win his 1995 world title match by knockout, which is something he could easily repeat in the Olympic tournament. The American heavyweight representative is Nate Jones.