This week, Arena CEO Ahmet Öner welcomed Erislandy Lara to Hamburg, Germany. The 2005 world amateur champion from Cuba joined his fellow countrymen Odlanier Solis, Yuriorkis Gamboa and Yan Barthelemy in signing with Arena Box-Promotion.
Lara had tried to defect from Cuba along with two-time Olympic Gold Medallist Gulliermo Ri Gondeaux one year ago but was arrested in Brazil and sent back to Havana.
Now, Lara finally arrived in Hamburg after leaving Cuba on a speedboat to Mexico were he received a provisional passport on Tuesday.
“It feels great to be in Germany ”, states Lara. “I don’t want to talk about the details of my escape. I am just glad to be here and I am looking forward to turning professional and becoming champion of the world.”
“It is better not to talk about the defection itself”, adds Öner. “We don’t want to endanger anybody. Unfortunately the communist regime in Cuba still puts a lot of pressure to different people. It’s about time that things change in Cuba and that they finally accept and respect human rights.”
Former welterweight champion Lara will most probably compete in the middleweight division. “This is one of the most exciting and most lucrative divisions in the world”, explains Öner. “I am sure that Lara will be able to compete with the best in the world very soon. He’s an outstanding talent like Gamboa and Solis.”
The 25-year-old will give his pro-debut on July 4 in Istanbul on the undercard of the European Heavyweight Championship between Sinan Samil Sam and Paolo Vidoz and the long estimated clash between Odlanier Solis and Francois Botha.