Sitting on the sidelines for almost two years, boxing’s best amateur heavyweight Erislandy Savon continues to dominate forums.
Some even call him the number one in the world in any weight class if he ever turned professional.
The 32-year-old scored 200 victories in the vested code. Boxing is in his blood. Savon forged a career path for himself in the considerable shadow of his uncle Felix.
Considered the best in his field from the unpaid ranks, he followed in the footsteps of his famous family member.
That’s despite not being able to win the Olympic gold medal like Felix Savon before him. Felix retired in 2000, winning three Olympic gold medals and six world amateur championships.
He should have won a fourth had Cuba chosen to participate in the 1988 Games in Seoul.
On the back of Felix came Erislandy, taking up the sport as a child, entering the amateur ranks in 2003, and bursting onto the scene in 2008.
Since then, Erislandy hit the magic 200 mark of wins. He’s a massive puncher boasting a 20% KO ratio through those boats – an improbable 40 via knockout.
Those stats are unheard of, considering a percentage of those stoppages came with head guards. In comparison, Anthony Joshua is the best of the current bunch for head guard stoppages.
Joshua managed 17%. Oleksandr Usyk just 3%. At the same time, Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder managed zero knockouts in 44 amateur bouts between them.
Only managing a bronze medal, Savon was under no pressure to emulate his uncle and gain that elusive gold medal. However, his time should have been 2012, but he got robbed by a hometown decision – ironically against Joshua.
A hand injury suffered in the run-up to 2020 qualifyings had initially ruled Savon out. However, the delay until 2021 gave the Cuban selection committee a new headache.
They opted for Julio Cesar La Cruz for the Tokyo Games. It paid off with another gold medal.
Savon has been on the wrong side of some close decisions despite his excellent displays in previous tournaments.
Joshua in the 2012 London Olympics was among the more notable at 17-16. Savon picked AJ apart. He undoubtedly won the fight. The verdict went to the home fighter in London.
It wasn’t Joshua’s only free pass of those games, either.
Since not being picked for 2020 , Savon is out of action. He is still young enough to compete and possesses impressive talent.
However, the massively feared skillset may never see the light of day in the paid ranks.
Probably due to his family name, there doesn’t seem even to be a chance that he defects from Cuba. His family remains there.
Add to that his uncle Felix is highly regarded for not leaving. It’s an improbable scenario for Savon.
Boxing will miss out on one of the greatest cruiserweight or heavyweight talents, well, since his uncle.
We can only imagine what a fight between Savon and Oleksandr Usyk would have produced. We didn’t even get the chance to see it in the amateurs.
When feeling pressure to turn pro, uncle Felix gave his reasoning for not taking big money.
“Cuba, since 1974, has been the king of amateur boxing in the world,” he said. “That is why the media of other countries keep asking why we don’t box professionally.
“Professionalism will abolish humanism and society. Athletes have been the most important thing in Cuba since Castro took over. We practice sports from the age of 8.”
Had Felix turned pro, he would have been in the mix with Mike Tyson, Riddick Bowe, Evander Holyfield, and Lennox Lewis – a mouth-watering thought.
So, will we ever see Erislandy trading with Joshua without a vest? – Or even Fury or Wilder – it isn’t very likely.
Even a historic deal signed by Cuban Boxing in April 2022 hasn’t pushed Savon any closer to a dream pro debut.
In all honesty, he could be a world champion now if he challenged any of those who hold a title at cruiserweight.
He did knock the current WBO champion Lawrence Okolie out in one round and defeated him again in that same year’s 2016 Olympics in Rio.
A heavyweight charge could follow in what looks to be a pipedream scenario.