Cuban-born Azerbaijani SOTOMAYOR is inspired by his boxing ring heroes

Baku, June 14, AZERTAC 

Cuban-born light welterweight boxer Collazo Sotomayor, who is more widely known as Lorenzo, now flies the flag for his adopted country Azerbaijan but remains inspired by the sporting heroes from his past.

His name will ring a bell with sports fans around the globe. Sotomayor is the nephew of world high jump record holder Javier Sotomayor, an icon back in Cuba.

He is both a hero and inspiration to the fighter, who is part of the strong Azerbaijani team chasing boxing titles at the Baku 2015 European Games.

Boxer Sotomayor said: "Javier is my hero, my superman. He was always telling me, 'You can do it. You can be a champion too'.

"He was my inspiration, the reason I started boxing. Of course, I would like to become an Olympic champion like him. I am aiming to compete in Rio next year at the Olympic Games and to get first place".

Sotomayor moved from Cuba to Azerbaijan just over two years ago.

He said: "Here I have a lot more opportunities than I had in Cuba. I am the No1 boxer for this country and it was more difficult in Cuba. I like representing Azerbaijan and I like living here."

Sotomayor always tries to treat the spectators to something flamboyant - such as the famous Ali shuffle, as performed by one of his other sporting heroes.

He said: "In Cuba all boxers dance before their fights to warm up the feet for great speed and, of course, my dancing in the ring related to the great Muhammad Ali."

SOTOMAYOR's main opponent in the light welterweight division might be Evaldas Petrauskas (LTU), ranked No9 in the world and the bronze medallist from the London 2012 Olympic Games.

In the lighter weight categories, Azerbaijan look very strong. Flyweight (52 kg) Elvin Mamishzada (AZE) is currently ranked No7 in the world, and light flyweight European champion in 2011. Salman Alizida (AZE) is also considered the favourite to the Baku title.

The home nation have proved to be a formidable force in front of their own crowd.

At the Great Silk Way Elite Boxing Tournament, which was used as a test event in the Crystal Hall in April, Azerbaijani boxers won seven of the 10 men's gold medals and they will be looking to emulate those successes when the tournament starts on 16 June.

It will run through to 27 June, with the medal bouts taking place on the final three days.

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