HAVANA -- Cuba's two-time world champion Julio Cesar La Cruz will have to sit out the upcoming 4th World Series of Boxing (WSB) match in Havana on Saturday, on doctors' orders, a sports official said Wednesday.
Cuba's National Boxing Commissioner Alberto Puig said doctors recommended La Cruz, who is recovering from a gunshot wound to the hip sustained during a robbery two weekends ago, skip the fight to avoid further injury.
Puig said Emmanuel Reyes will step in for La Cruz (81 kilograms) in the fight between the Cuban Domadores (Wranglers) and Mexico's Guerreros (Warriors) at Havana's Sports City.
According to Puig, doctors said that though the boxer was recovering well, he shouldn't get in the ring just yet, as he still needs medical monitoring.
On Jan. 4, La Cruz and fellow national team boxer Leinier Pero (91 kg) were held up in La Cruz's hometown of Camaguey, 530 km east of Havana, with La Cruz getting shot.
A small bullet lodged in the top of his left hip and doctors decided to leave it there, saying it presented no health threats, and treated him only with antibiotics and painkillers. He was discharged from the hospital 24 hours later.
His two attackers, who were identified and captured, said they didn't know who they were robbing.
La Cruz, 24, was voted one of the best Cuban athletes of 2013, and the best fighter in the Americas in 2011, according to the American Boxing Confederation.
Reyes, who has twice won the bronze medal nationally, will make his debut in the WSB fight as an opponent of the Moldovan Petro Ciobanu.
The other Cuban boxers in the Series include Olympic medal- winner Roniel Iglesias, fighting visitor Hector Reyes; two-time world champion Lazaro Alvarez, who will look for his third victory at the Series by facing the lightweight Raul Curiel; and flyweight Orlando Cervantes, who will fight Gerardo Huitzil.
In the super heavyweight division, Jose Angel Larduet is looking for his first win in the tournament, fighting Puerto Rican Gerardo Bisbal, who has one win and an overall score of 6-2.
At present Cuba's Wranglers are leading in the WSB's Group B with 15 points, and are the favorites to defeat the Warriors, who have just two points. If Cuba wins, it qualifies for the next stage of the international competition.
The WBS is a semi-professional competition sponsored by the Swiss-based International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA).
This is the first time Cuba competes in an international competition under the rules of professional boxing in more than 50 years.