Yan Can Box

Anticipation for the 2008 Olympic Games is heating up — especially for boxing — and sports fans the world over are keeping their eyes on the athletes. Cuba, for one, always produces top contenders — the Communist nation captured five (five!) Gold medals in boxing during the 2004 games in Athens, Greece. Which means either (a) it’s a sport the Communist nation takes very seriously, or (b) you never, ever want to get into a fistfight with a Cuban. After the 2004 games, three of Cuba’s top prospects defected and went pro, including light flyweight Yan Barthelemy.

Since leaving Castro and crew behind, Barthelemy’s put on a couple pounds to compete at bantamweight, signed on with Arena Box out of Hamburg, Germany, and recorded a perfect 6-0 record. The record is courtesy of Young Bart’s stellar technical fighting skills — he can juke and jive with the best of them, and he’s nearly impossible to catch with enough oomph to knock him down. Unfortunately, Yan also has all the punching power of a sickly girl scout — he’s never recorded a knockout, winning all his fights on decisions. Still, the young Cuban’s future looks bright. Friday at 7 p.m., he’ll headline ESPN 2’s Friday Night Fights, live from the War Memorial Auditorium (800 NE 8th St., Fort Lauderdale). His opponent is still TBA as of press time, which is sort of odd, but fans can take solace in this: The Golden Boy himself, Oscar de la Hoya, signed Yan to his team last week. Tickets start at $25, and can be had at www.ticketmaster.com.
Fri., June 27, 7 p.m., 2008

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John Linn