Whereabouts of Cuban boxers Rigondeaux, Cuadras unknown

Updated: July 23, 2007, 1:00 AM ET
Associated Press

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil -- Cuba's two-time Olympic boxing champion Guillermo Rigondeaux and a teammate who left the athletes village did not show up for their scheduled fights at the Pan American Games on Sunday.

Rigondeaux failed to make the weigh-in for his quarterfinal bout against Mexico's Carlos Cuadras in the bantamweight division, while Erislandy Lara didn't appear for his fight against Jamaica's Ricardo Smith in the welterweight division.

"They left the village and haven't returned," said Pedro Roque, coach and chief of Cuba's boxing delegation, stressing that it was all he knew.

He learned about the boxer's absence Sunday morning, but would not comment on whether they had deserted.

"Everything is possible in life," he said.

Bienvenido Solano of the Dominican Republic, a technical director for the boxing competitions, earlier said the boxers "didn't show up for the weigh-in, we don't know why."

Both fighters were disqualified and their opponents advanced to the semifinals.

Rigondeaux holds the dual titles of Olympic and world champion in the bantamweight class. He also won the Olympic gold in 2000. Rigondeaux became Cuba's top competitive boxer with the retirement of Mario Kindelan in 2004, and was looking for his third Pan Ams title.

Last year, Cuban Olympic boxing champions Yan Barthelemy, Yuriolski Gamboa and Odlanier Solis deserted during a trip to practice in Venezuela. They fled to Colombia and then signed contracts with German promoters in Miami.

The three won Olympic golds in Athens and were favored to repeat their titles in Beijing next year.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press