International Boxing Association President C K Wu celebrates the historic deal with Alberto Puig de la Barca, head of the Cuban Boxing Federation ©AIBA

An historic deal was signed here today between the International Boxing Association (AIBA) and Cuba designed to ensure that there is no talent drain from the Caribbean country as it increasingly opens itself up to the rest of the world. 

Under the new deal with the Cuban Boxing Federation (FCB), AIBA will be the exclusive partner for all the country's boxers whenever they compete in international events. 

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) commits that all FCB boxers will only compete in AIBA-approved competitions, including the World Series of Boxing (WSB) and AIBA Pro Boxing (APB).

Both AIBA and the FCB have agreed that Cuban boxers will not be allowed to compete in any non-AIBA professional boxing competitions in order, it was claimed "to protect them from being exploited by professional promoters" as diplomatic doors with Cuba begin to open.

Cuba is the second most successful country in the history of boxing at the Olympics behind only the United States having won a total of 67 medals, including 34 gold. 

It has produced some of the greatest amateur boxers in history, including three-time heavyweight gold medallists Teófilo Stevenson and Félix Savón, who were both denied the opportunity of turning professional. 

Roniel Iglesias, the London 2012 light welterweight gold medallist, is among Cuba's top boxers
Roniel Iglesias, the London 2012 light welterweight gold medallist, is among Cuba's top boxers ©WSB

The success of the Cuba Domodores, who are due to meet the British Lionhearts in the WSB at the Copper Box on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London tomorrow, has illustrated the depth of talent in the country.

Their team, which includes London 2012 gold medallists Roniel Iglesias and Robeisy Ramirez, won the overall title last year without losing a match and remain undefeated so far in 2015. 

Until they joined the WSB, Cuban boxers had remained strictly amateur.

But, with relations between Cuba and the US being normalised, the door may soon be opened to some of the country's top boxers being given the opportunity to turn professional. 

This new deal means that Cuban boxers will commit themselves to the WSB and APB, the only competitions that allow fighters to earn money and retain their Olympic eligibility.

“Signing this Memorandum with the Cuban Boxing Federation is a significant step in AIBA’s history, and it highlights our commitment to supporting the very best boxing talent in the world," AIBA President C K Wu told insidethegames.

"We are very grateful for the trust and commitment shown by FCB toward our organisation.

"They are very happy with this signing.

"This will provide a guarantee and protection to the boxers."

International Boxing Association President C K Wu (centre) claims the new agreement with Cuba will be a
International Boxing Association President C K Wu (centre) claims the new agreement with Cuba will be a "protection" its boxers, who meet the British Lionhearts in London tomorrow ©WSB

Professional boxing was effectively banned in Cuba in 1962 because the country's former leader Fidel Castro regarded it as both corrupt and corrupting, while authorities there deemed it is too dangerous and unsafe.

Cuba amended its law in 2013 to allow its boxers to take part in the WSB and APB. 

FCB President Alberto Puig de la Barca is just as keen as Wu to ensure Cuba's top boxers are not tempted away by big-cash offers that are expected to follow as soon as barriers between the country and the US are officially taken down.

“Today is an important day for the development of Cuban boxing and I am happy to be a part of this historic event for our sport," he said.

"This agreement will ensure that Cuban boxing continues to grow and prosper all over the world."

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